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Study will determine transit options for I-94 from the east

An in-depth study of the I-94 transit corridor coming into St.

An in-depth study of the I-94 transit corridor coming into St. Paul from the east will be conducted starting next month and running through spring 2012.

The plan is to to examine and plan alternative transportation options for the route, which is called the Gateway Corridor and covers the area from the St. Croix River Bridge on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to downtown Saint Paul.

Relax, though. Apparently the earliest a new transit option would be ready is 2022.

The study was announced this morning by a commission, made up of federal, state and local government leaders, with business leaders, too. They say improvements in the corridor are needed because it’s one of the most congested arteries into both downtowns.

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They hope the study “will jump-start the effort to bring light rail, commuter rail or bus rapid transit to the region.”

The group says: “More than 90,000 vehicles cross the St. Croix River Bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin. By the time a commuter reaches downtown Saint Paul, the number of vehicles increases to 150,000. Currently, there are limited options for transit, mostly express buses, connecting the eastern suburbs to both downtowns.”

The study “will not only determine the best transit mode for the corridor — whether it is light rail, commuter rail or bus rapid transit — but it will also identify potential routes with estimated ridership and economic and environmental impacts along the Gateway Corridor.

“Depending upon federal and local funding, a new transit option in the Gateway Corridor could be operational by 2022.”

While they’re studying the options and trying to secure funding for the proposed changes, officials say they’ll hold many public meetings to hear from residents what type of transit improvements they’d like to see.