Bus-commuting Burnsville residents already have options to get from their homes to their jobs in downtown Minneapolis in the morning and back in the evening.
But for reverse commuters, people who work irregular hours or those who need to leave work to pick up a sick child or go to a dentist appointment, it isn’t so easy. And right now, people who want to attend a performance at the Ames Center or visit Burnsville’s festivals or farmers market on summer weekends don’t have much choice except to drive.
A solution is still several years away, but planning and development of Metro Transit’s Orange Line bus rapid transit, connecting Burnsville to downtown Minneapolis, is moving forward, transit officials said last week.
The line will offer frequent, all-day service in both directions between downtown Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington and Burnsville via Interstate 35W seven days a week.
Last month, Metro Transit asked commuters to fill out a survey about where the Burnsville Orange Line station should be located. There are two choices: the northeast quadrant of Nicollet Avenue and Hwy. 13 or the southwest quadrant of that intersection, called the Travelers Trail station.
Each location has its advantages. A transit station with parking already exists at the northeast site. But the southwest site offers more “walk-up” opportunities and is closer to more multifamily housing and businesses.
The survey asked people what hours they travel, where they travel and how they get to the location from which they take the bus. Results of the survey are not yet available.
Burnsville City Manager Heather Johnston said the city is supportive of the project and wants to make sure the station is located in the right spot.
The Orange Line would not replace the current express bus service but supplement it, said Christina Morrison, senior planner at Metro Transit.
The line would include four stations in downtown Minneapolis, then stations at Lake Street, 46th Street, 66th Street and 76th Street, American Boulevard and 98th Street before reaching Burnsville.
Forecast ridership for the year 2040 is about 26,500 daily riders on the whole corridor — express buses and bus rapid transit, and about 11,400 riders daily for solely the Orange Line, Morrison said.
The overall cost is projected to be $150 million, she said. Of that, $18 million has been secured, which “is enough to get us through all of the engineering.” The agency is currently talking to cities and counties involved about their potential financial contributions.
If the project stays on track, construction would begin in 2017 and run through the last quarter of 2019, with the service opening at the end of 2019, Morrison said. People can get more information at www.metrotransit.org/orangeline.