Minnesota study to examine bus lane for I-35W

| 10/15/2004

Easing traffic and allowing faster commutes is the goal of a Minnesota study that will examine adding bus-only express lanes along Interstate 35W from Lakeville to downtown Minneapolis.

“I think everyone realizes the need for transit in this area,” state Rep. Mary Liz Holberg, R-Lakeville – who along with Rep. Frank Hornstein, DFL-Minneapolis, wrote the bill to authorize the study – told the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

If a “bus rapid transit” lane were added to I-35W, it would be the first in the state. The study, which is being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, will look at an express route that runs through Minneapolis, Richfield, Bloomington, Burnsville and Lakeville.

According to MnDOT, the I-35W corridor is already among the top five most highly traveled routes in the state. And by 2010, the number of vehicles is expected to jump from 203,000 to 218,000 or more daily. The route is also one of the most heavily used among bus riders in the Twin Cities, with 15,000 trips a day.

The department’s project manager, Joel Griffith, said it is difficult to put a price tag on the project, but infrastructure such as adding lanes, replacing bridges and building retaining walls could cost $250 million alone. Building more stations and installing new traffic signals would add to the price tag as well.

MnDOT is expected to complete the study and submit a recommendation to the Legislature in December.