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.