Cedar Avenue construction nears completion

Celebration set for Dec. 10

After more than 14 years of planning, Dakota County will celebrate the final construction phase of Cedar Avenue Transitway on Dec. 10.

The event, at 10:30 a.m. at the Apple Valley Transit Station, 15450 Cedar Avenue, will feature the sleek Metro Red Line buses and comments from community leaders involved in the project, including Dakota County Commissioner Will Branning, County Board Chair Nancy Schouweiler and Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh.

Schouweiler said Dakota County’s bus rapid transit project, set to open in spring 2013, is regionally significant for the county’s transportation future.

“This is the first major step of getting the county on the transit road map,” Schouweiler said. “Cedar feeds into the Hiawatha line and eventually that connects with Central, so that puts us in that ‘major player’ category.”

On the 16-mile road, shoulder-running buses will provide station-to-station service from Lakeville to the Mall of America hub where riders can connect to other transit lines.

Cedar Avenue, the “Red Line,” is expected to ease congestion, stimulate economic development and could result in cost savings for users.

“We’ve got a few walk-up stations,” Schouweiler said. “So I would think that might allow some of those residents the opportunity to get down to only one vehicle in their family.”

Dakota County started the Cedar Avenue Transitway project in 1999 with studies that considered costs, alternatives and engineering estimates.

A final design was completed in 2010 and Stage 1 construction began in 2009.

Schouweiler said it is a “strong possibility” that bus rapid transit will be the transportation mode selected for the Robert Street Corridor, and the county’s experiences developing the Cedar Avenue Transitway will prove valuable as that project continues.

“One of the problems we’ve had in this whole process is that nobody’s done BRT before,” Schouweiler said. “Part of it was like inventing the wheel — the Met Council had to develop their guidelines, we were shooting from the hip. So this time, we’ll have those templates to work from.”