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By Rail or Bus, Bottineau Transitway Could Boost Golden Valley

A public information session is Thursday night.

The Bottineau Boulevard Transitway is a proposed public transportation system that could potentially further connect the Golden Valley area with Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs.

The project calls for either a bus or light rail transportation line that would begin at Target Field and, in one possible scenario, branch out into Golden Valley Road and Theodore Wirth Parkway.

One of the project's purposes is to offer reverse suburban commuting—transportation for those who travel from the city to the suburbs for work.

"What this would fill in is all-day, frequent service in both directions," Hennepin County Bottineau Study Manager Brent Rusco said. "One of the biggest issues that's been identified is reverse commute to suburban jobs as a need." 

Commuter rail has been screened out, Rusco said, and officials are looking at options for optimized bus rapid transit. 

The project is in the preliminary stage. Joe Gladke, manager of engineering and transit planning for Hennepin County, projects the cost for light rail between $880 million and $932 million and for bus transit costs at a little more than half that. Cost estimates for the total project aren't available. Rusco projects the start of construction to 2016 and operation starting two years later, though funding and other variables could change that.

Organizers of the project, which include Hennepin County and a number of advisory boards, are asking for a federal grant from the Federal Transit Administration's New Starts Program to fund 50 percent of the transitway. The remaining funds would come from the Counties Transportation Improvement Board (30 percent), the Hennepin County Regional Rail Authority (10 percent) and the State of Minnesota (10 percent).

Environmental impacts studies come next, Rusco said. The public is invited to a series of open houses to discuss the environmental studies, the alignment location and other project details. Average ridership for the entire Bottineau Transitway is predicted to be similar to those using the Hiawatha Light Rail. According to data collected by Hennepin County, Hiawatha saw more than 30,000 riders per week in 2010.

There will be an open house regarding the proposal Thursday, June 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Courage Center, 3915 Golden Valley Road. 

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