Despite some setbacks with transportation funding this legislative session, the Gateway Commission will move toward the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) phase, with its route from the Union Depot through Woodbury. The path would take it along Kellogg and Mounds Boulevards and Hudson Road.
The Gateway Commission will form three committees over the summer: Community, Policy, and Technical Advisory Committees will oversee the planning process. The Engage East Side Resident Network is working closely with Commission members to ensure that the Community Advisory Committee (the CAC), will receive appropriate representation from East Side residents and business owners.
This fall, a number of “scoping hearings” will take place as the first step in the DEIS process. These hearings will seek public input into the variables for inclusion in the Environmental Impact study.
The primary decision during scoping is whether the DEIS will move forward with Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Rail Transit (LRT) as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), which they hope to complete by July 2014. After more public engagement and a great deal of engineering, the project aims to break ground in 2020.
This fall’s scoping meetings will attempt to gauge resident and business-owner concerns with respect to the Gateway Corridor. Below are some possible issues to be included in the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Study:
- Effects on neighborhood resources, including parking, Mounds Boulevard views, pedestrian and bikeways, and Sun Ray/Earl Street/Mounds Boulevard businesses.
- Noise and vibration, particularly when compounded by I-94 noise.
- Historic and cultural resources. Some historic district buildings are on the preliminary property-takes list, including a half-million-dollar DBNHS renovation of a brick duplex on Conway Ave.
- Parks and public land, including possible changes to Johnson Parkway.
- Water resources, wetlands, and habitat, including possible effects on Bruce Vento and Phalen Creek.
- Air quality and climate change. BRT will contribute to poor air quality near I-94. Depending on how its electricity is generated, LRT can have a smaller carbon footprint than BRT.
- Land use and zoning, particularly within ¼ mile of station areas. Sun Ray, Earl Street, and Mounds Boulevard stops could markedly change their surrounding areas, with respect to business development, property values, and parking issues
- Consistency with local plans. What about MNDoT’s proposed noise wall new-builds and re-builds? How do Gateway’s SunRay station plans compare with District 1 Community Council’s Strategic Transportation Plan?How do Gateway’s Earl Street station plans compare with streetscape designs drawn up by Dayton’s Bluff Community Council?
- Right-of-way impacts. How will all modes – pedestrians, bikes, cars, buses – easily get to Sun Ray shopping center? What will Mounds Boulevard look like with another dedicated lane, turning left onto the Kellogg Bridge?
- Economic development and redevelopment. How can we leverage a dedicated transitway for the most improvements to our station-area business hubs, particularly Sun Ray and Earl Street?
- Visual and aesthetics. Is there a way to design for aesthetics, especially running next to an Interstate? How will this affect the look of Dayton’s Bluff’s historic district?
- Transportation. How will people travel to and from the stations? How will buses, bikeways, and pedestrian routes change to accommodate the Gateway?
- Safety and security. What about vagrancy, crime, and personal safety at and around stations? How can we ensure traffic safety along the transitway, especially for children?
- Environmental justice. What might be the effects of the proposed alternatives on minority and low-income populations and communities? The East Side has a very high concentration of these groups, many of whom are transit-dependent.
If you want more updates and details on the Gateway Corridor and on East Side transit issues, visit Sherry’s blog at eesresidentnetwork.wordpress.com.