Dakota County officials hope the soon-to-be-open Red Line rapid transit bus route extending from Bloomington to Lakeville will serve as a catalyst for local economic development.
But how can cities along the route—including Lakeville, Apple Valley and Eagan—best prepare for and promote development and redevelopment near future bus line stations?
That's a question that county planners hope consulting firm Kimley-Horn and Associates can answer this winter. The county is using funding from a $200,000 grant it received earlier this year from a Metropolitan Council program, Corridors of Opportunity, to pay for an extensive, multi-city market study.
The intent of the study is to identify strategies to promote the rapid transit line as a development tool in areas along the transit way, according to Dakota County Transit Specialist Joe Morneau, who spoke concerning the project at a recent Eagan City Council meeting.
The Red Line, which is expected to begin operations next spring, will initially have five stations stretching from the Mall of America in Bloomington to Lakeville. But future plans call for as many as 13 stations, with four to five park-and-ride facilities, according to information released by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, which will operate the line.
The study will inventory existing commercial and residential development around the first five station sites, evaluate demographics in those areas, identify each site's future development capacity and local infrastructure needs, among other objectives, Morneau said.
Eventually, county officials hope to use the study findings to create a vision for development and redevelopment around the rapid transit station sites.
As part of the study, consultants and county officials will also hold several open houses in communities along the Red Line route, Morneau added.
“[Rapid transit busing] is a new thing in general, but especially for this region. This is the first line of what will lieky be several in the region," Morneau said.
"In general, we’re looking to leverage the transit investments to impact economic development, more intensive land use and more access to jobs and services and businesses."