Q: What is the Red Rock Corridor?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor is a proposed 20-mile transitway, connecting the Twin Cities’ southeastern suburbs to Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The transitway will originate in Hastings with stops in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, Newport, and Saint Paul’s Battle Creek neighborhood before terminating at Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul. Riders will be able to connect to other regional transit service at Union Depot including express bus and light rail service to downtown Minneapolis.

Q: Who is the Red Rock Corridor Commission?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor Commission is comprised of 11 members representing the counties and communities within the corridor. In addition to the 11 members, representatives from Goodhue County, the City of Red Wing, Prairie Island Indian Community, and the Canadian Pacific Railway serve as ex-officio members.

Q: Why are transportation investments needed in the corridor?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor has regional, statewide, and national significance as a primary transportation route for automobile, truck, and rail travel. Highway 61 is a principal arterial and part of the National Highway and National Scenic Byway systems. The Metropolitan Council has projected that the southeast quadrant of the Metro Area will grow by another 100,000 people over the next 20 years. Despite the growth in some of the outlying areas, 94% of the jobs in the study area are within Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and the primary commute pattern is to these two downtowns. This pattern is expected to continue into 2030. The Minnesota Department of Transportation projects that by 2030, the entire length of Highway 61 in the Red Rock Corridor will be congested and operating at a Level of Service (LOS) F during the morning and evening commute periods. As population and employment increase, demand for transportation increases and congestion will only get worse unless a transit solution is pursued.

Q: What work has already been completed?

A :

The Implementation Plan, completed in 2016, builds off of the 2014 Alternatives Analysis Update (AAU), which identified bus rapid transit (BRT) as the alternative best able to improve accessibility and connectivity with all-day bi-directional service throughout the corridor. The Implementation Plan followed the recommendations from the AAU to create financial, development, and service plans to lead towards the long-term goal of more transit service in the Red Rock Corridor.

The recommendations made in the Implementation Plan result from projected ridership, cost-effectiveness, potential for economic development, and input from the public. The Implementation Plan used a phased approach presenting both near-term and long-term strategies and recommendations. Recommendations for the near term (Phase I), between 2016 and 2020, focused on increasing local and express bus service and building transit ridership. Recommendations for the long term (Phase 2), between 2020 and 2040, focused on introducing BRT to the corridor after Phase I.

Following the near term recommendations from the Implementation Plan, a small area planning process was kicked off in April 2017. The cities of Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park are working with Washington County to develop small areas plans for the proposed station areas in each city. The small area plans will look at land use, economic development, and redevelopment opportunities in the station areas to make them more transit friendly. The goal of this project is to create a plan with strategies to support improved transit service and capitalize on investments.

Q: Where will transit stations be located?

A :

The preferred alignment identified as part of the Implement Plan includes bus rapid transit (BRT) service generally along Highway 61. The proposed service would occasionally deviate from Highway 61 to serve existing destinations and densities, which helps support all-day, bi-directional transit service. Prior to the Red Rock Corridor Commission’s action, two bus rapid transit route alternatives were reviewed comparing travel time data, projected ridership, and capital and operating costs.  The recommended route will serve the following five cities:

  • Hastings
  • Cottage Grove
  • (One near 80th and one near Jamaica Ave on East Point Douglas)

  • St. Paul Park
  • Newport
  • St. Paul (Lower Afton)

More details are included in the Implementation Plan.

Q: What are the next steps in the process?

A :

Immediate next steps for the Red Rock Corridor will focus on expanding bus service, growing transit ridership, and promoting economic development throughout the corridor.

Q: When is the transitway scheduled to be completed?

A :

A staged implementation plan completed in 2016 determined capital and operating costs and updated ridership estimates. The Implementation Plan identified phased implementation of BRT improvements in the mid-term and all-day BRT service in the long term (between 2020 and 2040). Corridor ridership and station area development will be monitored to determine the best time to implement full BRT service in the southeast metro.

Q: Will the Red Rock Corridor compete with the METRO Green Line (Central Corridor)?

A :

No, analysis completed by the METRO Green Line showed that there is minimal overlap in the corridors’ markets. Riders on the METRO Green Line are more likely to travel to destinations primarily along University Avenue, including stops in both downtown areas and the University of Minnesota, while Red Rock riders are commuters primarily destined for either downtown Saint Paul or downtown Minneapolis. Riders for each corridor will take the system that most effectively meets their needs.

Q: Will the Red Rock Corridor be extended further south?

A :

No, Hastings is the furthermost terminus for bus rapid transit service along the Red Rock Corridor.

Q: Is there existing transit service in the corridor?

A :

Yes, Metro Transit currently operates express bus service on Routes 361 and 365 between Cottage Grove and the downtowns of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Metropolitan Council also contracts for service on Route 364 from Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park, and Newport to downtown Saint Paul. Park & Ride lots available at Lower Afton Road in Saint Paul, Newport Transit Station, and in Cottage Grove are currently served by transit in the corridor. For more information on current Metro Transit route schedules, Click here

Q: How will the Red Rock Corridor connect with other regional transit improvements?

A :

The Red Rock Corridor will seamlessly connect to other transit lines and services at the stations along the corridor, and once fully built could share stations with the METRO Gold Line in the east side of Saint Paul. At the Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul, Red Rock will connect with Metro Transit buses, taxis, intercity buses (Greyhound and Jefferson Lines), METRO Green Line (light rail), high-speed passenger rail from Chicago, Amtrak’s Empire Builder, and future connections to both the Gateway and Rush Line Corridors. At the other stations, Red Rock will provide convenient connections with local bus service.