The Gateway Corridor follows Interstate 94 from the St. Croix River Bridge to Saint Paul. As a vital transportation connection between urban, suburban and rural communities, the Gateway Corridor continues to be an important corridor to businesses and residents.
In 1869, the corridor was utilized by the Saint Paul and Duluth Railroad, which crossed central Washington County. The railroad line prompted new activity and settlement patterns that led to the growth and development of cities and townships within the corridor. In later years, the Saint Paul and Duluth Railroad began running trips from Saint Paul to the St. Croix River and was renamed the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company.
As the automobile became more popular, work began to build a stretch of highway that would connect communities from the St. Croix River to Saint Paul and Minneapolis. For almost 30 years, Minnesota policymakers grappled with the route and construction of a new interstate highway. After considerable debate, two alternatives were finally brought forward. The first option, would have reconstructed the existing highway to interstate highway standards. The second option moved the interstate one-half mile north of its current alignment.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) selected the current interstate highway route that is used today and sought federal approval to construct this as one of the last pieces of the Interstate 94 freeway system. In 1985, the final stretch of Interstate 94 was finished and quickly became one of the most heavily used and traveled corridors in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Today, the corridor provides an important link to some of the Twin Cities’ largest employers, including 3M, The Hartford, Imation and Securian Financial. As a result of recent population growth, the I-94 corridor today moves more than 150,000 vehicles per day. In 2009, a commission was created to study and plan alternative transportation options in the corridor.
Starting in fall 2010, the Gateway Corridor Commission will begin leading an Alternatives Analysis Study that will determine the best mode of transit (light-rail transit, commuter rail or bus-rapid transit), estimated ridership, potential routes and estimated costs for construction and operation. The study is expected to be completed by spring 2012. Depending upon federal and local funding, a new transitway in the Gateway Corridor could be operational by 2022.