Board gets Gateway Corridor update

WashCo_logoAn environmental impact statement on the Gateway Corridor will take two years to draft and cost $3 million, the Washington County Board of Commissioners was told Tuesday during an update on corridor progress.

Meeting as the county Regional Rail Authority, commissioners were told a company will be selected in May to conduct the environmental impact study on the Gateway Corridor, a transit corridor along Interstate 94 through Washington County to St. Paul.
The county will pay $2.125 million of the study’s cost, with Ramsey County adding $875,000. Washington County’s portion of the funds is paid through the county Transit Improvement Board.

The environmental impact statement assesses the corridor project’s impact on land use, transportation, air quality, noise, cultural and recreational resources and area water quality. The statement also complies with federal standards requiring detailed assessments of environmental impacts of all alternatives in federally funded projects.
The environmental impact statement follows the completion last year of an alternative analysis. That 2012 analysis found the best forms of transit for the corridor are either bus rapid transit or light rail transit.

The Gateway Corridor would provide new and consistent all-day service operating with existing express transit service with a projected daily ridership of 8,900 to 9,300 passengers. The transitway would have 11 station stops positioned to promote economic development and connections to the region’s transit system via the Union Depot in downtown St. Paul.

The board also received information about a communications company to be hired that would work with the Gateway Corridor Commission on public information work.
In other action as the RRA, Commissioner Autumn Lehrke was elected rail commission chairman and Commissioner Gary Kriesel was elected RRA vice chairman.

In other actions Tuesday, the county board:

  • Renewed contracts that have the county provide individual sewage treatment system inspections in Forest Lake, Lakeland Shores and Newport. The county reviews sewage system applications, approves plans, inspects projects and conducts special inspections to ensure compliance with city and county ordinances. Costs are covered by inspection fees.
  • Approved a contract change with Aramark Correctional Services, LLC, increasing by 2.81 percent what the county pays the company for food service to Washington County Jail inmates. The contract with Aramark calls for a yearly price increase either by mutual agreement or based on the Consumer Price Index. The recent increase was agreed to by the company and county.
  • Conducted an annual performance review with County Administrator Molly O’Rourke during a closed session. The review was O’Rourke’s first since being named administrator in January 2013, replacing retired Administrator Jim Schug.
  • Passed a resolution congratulating Bill Nelson, who is retiring from the Baytown Township Board after serving 30 years. The township board held a reception for Nelson following its meeting Tuesday.