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East Saint Paul: Gateway Transit Corridor Analysis.

Taylor, Jacqueline.

Public transportation is becoming a top priority around the country, particularity in the Twin Cities metropolitan region. The overwhelming success of the Hiawatha light rail, near completion of the Central Corridor light rail, and struggle to raise funding for the Southwest light rail have impacted thousands of residents and businesses over the past decade. These three projects, combined with other mass transit modes combine to form the Twin Cities’ 2030 Transitway System.

The Gateway Corridor, running along Interstate 94 from downtown Saint Paul to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is one of two priority transitways for future LRT, BRT, or Express Service development. The Gateway Commission is currently working with consultants to complete a Transit Alternative Analysis Study; the study will help address issues of congestion, potential economic development, revitalization, and social and environmental impacts along the entire corridor. Currently, five build alternatives include: (1, 2) a BRT or LRT line along Hudson Road and the I-94 median; (3, 4) a BRT or LRT line along East 7th Street, White Bear Avenue, and Hudson Road, and (5) a BRT managed lane along I-94.2 The Commission has little capacity to canvas East Saint Paul residents, businesses, and neighborhoods for their input; therefore the East Side Prosperity Campaign has organized a seven-member task force to develop an outreach campaign and advocate on behalf of East Saint Paul. Only two alternatives travel through the heart of East Saint Paul, yet all five alternatives significantly impact the future vitality of the community.

This paper explores two main issues, environmental justice and transit dependency, as they relate to the planning and development processes of the Gateway Corridor. The following five sections include quantitative and qualitative analysis to determine how environmental justice and transit dependency relate to East Saint Paul and may benefit residents as they advocate for their preferences in the Gateway Corridor process. (1) Background information is provided to better understand the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Justice definition and the Federal Transit Administration New Starts’ funding process for capital projects. (2) Four case studies explore other metropolitan regions using qualitative and quantitative data to ensure environmental justice issues are addressed in mass transit projects. (3) A community profile using 2010 Census and American Survey data establishes that environmental justice issues are of particular concern to East Saint Paul. (4) A mobility analysis combines 2010 American Community Survey information, Metro Transit data, and other mobility studies to present East Saint Paul’s transit dependency. (5) Lastly, results from the East Side Prosperity Campaign’s 600-respondent survey are presented. This survey helps compile street-level data on current and future transit use.

Instead of presenting hard conclusions about Gateway Corridor alternatives, modes, or routes, this paper focuses on quantitative and qualitative data to explore environmental and mobility issues as they relate to the inner-city portion of the project. Additional research and outreach efforts are still necessary to better understand land use and economic development concerns along the Gateway Corridor study area in East Saint Paul.

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Conducted on behalf of East Side Prosperity Campaign. Supported by Neighborhood Partnerships for Community Research (NPCR), a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota.
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