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Gateway Corridor I-94 study winds down

The Gateway Corridor study is nearly finished and alternative transit plans for the route from Eau Claire to Minneapolis will be presented at a public meeting at 5 p.m., April 4 at the St. Croix County Government Center in Hudson, lower level. Submitted graphic

Traffic along Interstate 94 from Wisconsin to Minnesota and vice versa is experiencing a steady increase in volume as population spikes on both sides of the St. Croix River.

Moving people efficiently along the Gateway Corridor has been under study by the Gateway Commission in Minnesota since 2009. Wisconsin joined the party in 2010, said Tim Ramberg, St. Croix County highway commissioner.

Ramberg presented basics of the study during the March 6 County Board meeting along with a slide show and mountain of statistics. The commissioner's most important point was a public input open house on Gateway Corridor transit alternatives is set for 5-7 p.m., April 4 in the lower level of the St. Croix County Government Center.

All the maps and charts and transit options will be on display and questions answered at the meeting, said Ramberg. Anybody with a stake in the corridor, which is considered three to five miles on either side of I-94 from Eau Claire to Minneapolis, is encouraged to attend the meeting and get a first-hand view of the project.

"It's like picking raspberries," said Ramberg, "You've got to move a few leaves. You've got to see it to make a choice."

The commission has a target date of this spring to wrap up the study and settle on a solution.

Ramberg emphasized the project addresses transit-moving people, as opposed to traffic-moving vehicles, along the route.

The commission has tackled the transit issues for a number of reasons including current traffic levels on I-94 exceed capacity and the predicted population and job growth along the corridor is expected to increase 30 percent by 2030. Ramberg said that from Baldwin to Minnesota, 90,000 vehicles a day cross the St. Croix River.

The Gateway Commission evaluated four types of transit modes for evaluation including conventional and express bus, bus rapid transit, light rail transit and commuter rail line.

"I think Rapid Bus Transit (BRT) will be the chosen alternative," said Ramberg. A BRT proposal along Hudson Road and I-94 is one alternative that has been carried forward for consideration by the commission with the note, "this alternative meets project goals better than other alternatives."

Ramberg pointed out the study showed a relatively small number of passengers boarding in Hudson along the bus route because of a factor he called "behavioral economics."

"People tend to drive to the point of congestion then use the alternative transit," said Ramberg. "The study not only took in time of travel but also time to drive, park your car and get on the bus in the study...all factors used to determine shortest distance and shortest time for the commuter."

Another interesting statistic from the study is St. Croix County imports more jobs than it exports, said Ramberg.

For more information contact the commission's website at