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St. Croix County keeps transportation alternates on the table

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Although the Minnesota Gateway Corridor project has decided to stop at Hudson, and not go all the way into St. Croix County for now, St. Croix County had decided not to let the issue of alternative commuter transportation options get pushed off the table.

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Clarence "Buck" Malick, St. Croix County Board supervisor and member of the St. Croix County transportation committee, said the county has projected that St. Croix County's population, businesses and institutions will continue to grow once the economy gets back on course.

"It would be nice to be ready for that," Malick said, "to be welcoming and to have thought about whether we should have a train."

The St. Croix County transportation committee passed a resolution on Aug. 13 to advocate for bus, commuter rail and high speed rail transportation alternative options through St. Croix County. But, Malick said, this doesn't mean St. Croix County residents will be seeing high speed or commuter rail lines built any time soon. In fact, Malick said if there is any action, it won't be for another 10 to 30 years.

Still, Malick said, the transportation committee approved the resolution because they felt it was important not to let the issue slide.

"If we're going to be ... regional global players," Malick said, "we need to have more connections."

Malick said the resolution covered a few main areas, including business travel, whether that be commuters going in and out of St. Croix County for work, or longer business trips in and out of St. Croix County. Malick said another area the transportation committee's resolution covered was educational travel, such as students from far away traveling to get to schools within the county, or institutions within the county sending students on long-distance educational trips.

Malick said the committee also considered armed forces members coming home from leave for holidays, or at any other time from training areas in other parts of the country.

This resolution stems from the Minnesota Gateway Corridor Commission's research into alternative forms of travel between the Twin Cities metro area and the St. Croix County area in Wisconsin. Traffic on Interstate 94 has been very heavy, especially during rush hour, in past years, according to the Gateway Corridor Commission's website (www.thegatewaycorridor.com), and the mission of the commission is to explore alternative transportation options that could help alleviate traffic on I-94.

According to Tim Ramberg, St. Croix County highway commissioner, the Gateway Corridor Commission originally had thought to plan forms of travel reaching all the way into St. Croix County. However, they have since amended their plans to end conections in Hudson.

"That was disappointing to us," said Ramberg. "We felt that we want to go on record that we are supporting continuous looking at alternative transportation."

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