Washington County is leading the Highway 36 Study where they are asking residents to provide their transit needs along the corridor between Stillwater and Minneapolis.
Our Executive Director Dana got the chance to interview the project manager of the study Emily Jorgensen on our Cities Speak podcast. Jorgensen is a planner with Washington County Public Works where she works on transportation and transit initiatives.
There has been an increase in traffic on the corridor in recent years. Jorgensen said this is because of the addition of the St. Croix Crossing bridge in 2017. This also brought in new types of residents who use the corridor. Now, there are both urban and rural residents on the road both with different demands and needs.
Right now, Highway 36 is one of the only east-west transit in the area. This limits travel for the residents, specifically those who choose to or cannot drive. “So that’s what we’re really looking at is just determining the need and the demand for transit, and where does that transit need to go within the corridor,” said Jorgensen.
This isn’t the first study that’s been conducted about transit needs in the area. The Metropolitan Council conducted a study in 2014 that found there is a demand for transit between downtown Minneapolis and Oakdale, yet not much has been done since.
This time around, Jorgensen and her team have not only expanded the area of research to Stillwater, but also plan to listen to the residents and take action. “Folks are starting to look ahead to the future and thinking about, what do we want in our communities if we want to attract more young people,” said Jorgensen.
Who can participate
“[We are] really trying to get all walks of life to participate in our survey and our online engagement opportunities,” said Jorgensen. Jorgensen and her team want to know what sort of needs residents are looking for such as transit facilities. They are not only asking if there is a need for transit facilities, but also where the transit stops would need to be.
The Highway 36 team is also looking for feedback from businesses who run alongside the corridor like Jude Medical and Abbott. People have run into many transit barriers when trying to visit these businesses, and Jorgensen and her team want to help. “Businesses are really interested in alternative ways to get folks where they need to go,” said Jorgensen.
Findings so far
Jorgensen said there have already been some good responses from the survey. They found that there are a lot of travel needs between Ray Street and Roseville for work and errands. For many U of M or Century students, it’s difficult to commute to class using the highway. In general, there is a significant need for midday service according to Jorgensen.
Take the survey
You can participate in the study here. “ We’re just focusing on asking folks how they use transit today, how would they like to use transit, and really getting at their challenges and barriers,” said Jorgensen.
After the study is complete, the next phase will be to send out recommendations to those who took the survey. Along with the recommendations, they are asking how these would help you such as help you complete your degree or visit your grandchildren.
The survey will be up on the website for a few more weeks, but the entire project is taking place until the end of March. You can complete the survey now to make your voice heard.