By Carol Keyes-Ferrer
About eight years ago, a group of Sierra Club members got together to work on a grassroots effort to improve transit in Northern Dakota County (NDC). The NDC Sierra Community represented residents in Rosemount, Inver Grove Heights, Eagan, Sunfish Lake, Lilydale, South St Paul, Mendota Heights and West St Paul. In response to an organizing and public education campaign about the need for improved transit — in a growing part of the Metro that was underserved by existing proposals for light rail and high-speed bus — the Minnesota legislature provided funding for a feasibility study, which was completed in 2008.Since then, Dakota County has looked at the recommendations of that study and moved forward with further transit studies. Dakota County secured Federal Transit Administration funds for an Alternatives Analysis of the Robert Street transitway, or corridor. This corridor stretches from downtown St Paul (the home of Union Depot and Central Corridor light rail) to Rosemount, from the Mississippi River on the east to the Minnesota River on the west. The purpose of this study is to determine the mode and route of major transit improvements along the Robert Street corridor, but not necessarily along Robert Street. Light rail, bus rapid transit, and trolley car are a few of the modes under consideration. Continued public input is needed to ensure that the resulting recommendations will improve transportation choices, decrease traffic and reduce pollution. For specific information on the Alternatives Analysis study, the study process, maps, etc, check out the Robert Street Transitway Alternatives Study website. The Northern Dakota County Sierra Community group will meet again this Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 2 p.m. Please join us at Amore Coffee, located at 879 Smith Avenue South, West St Paul. To learn more or RSVP, contact Carol Keyes at firstname.lastname@example.org.