The METRO Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project will connect people across the region to job centers, housing options, transit stations and key destinations along the I-94 corridor. The project will provide all day, bi-directional BRT service to the cities of St. Paul, Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury.
When complete, the Gold Line is expected to feature:
- Frequent, all-day service in both directions
- Pre-boarding fare payment for faster stops
- Access to BRT park-and-ride lots in St. Paul, Oakdale and Woodbury
- Connections to additional regional transit lines
- Real-time arrival and departure information
- Heated shelters, lighting and security features
This project involves coordination between many agencies, including the Metropolitan Council, Ramsey and Washington Counties, the various cities along the line, as well as the state and federal government.
Gold Line Schedule
Gold Line BRT is expected to begin service in 2025. The design work on the project has been underway since 2018 and is expected to be completed later in 2021. In April 2021, the Federal Transit Administration approved the project to enter the engineering phase. During engineering, the project engineers will complete the final design and draw the blueprints to guide Gold Line construction. Construction is expected to begin in 2022.
Questions can be directed to Liz Jones at Elizabeth.Jones@metrotransit.org.
Learn more on the METRO Gold Line website
The METRO Gold Line BRT will include three stations in Woodbury. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan identifies the need for additional, local-level, master planning efforts at the Gold Line station areas to facilitate high quality development and redevelopment opportunities. The Gold Line Station Master Plan Area consists of approximately 410 acres in northwestern Woodbury including a variety of places to work, places to shop, high-density residential uses, open space and public/semi-public uses. While there are additional acres within the traditional half-mile radii of the station locations, the master plan is focusing on the commercial and high density residential uses that are likely to develop or redevelop as part of the proposed BRT investment. The master plan process is designed to deliver land use and density recommendations as well as design and aesthetic guidelines to implement the Gold Line Station Area Goals and Gold Line Station Area Policies as described in pages 55-58 of the Land Use Chapter of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan.
View the Woodbury Gold Line Master Plan
Gold Line Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Gold Line?
The METRO Gold Line is a 10-mile dedicated Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line being planned by Washington County, Ramsey County and METRO Transit that will connect Woodbury to St. Paul and other eastern suburbs. The Gold Line will provide frequent, all-day service in both directions, seven days a week and will connect with the growing regional transit system.
The Gold Line corridor is proposed to generally run along the north side of I-94 from the Union Depot in Saint Paul to Oakdale, then cross over I-94 on a new bridge connecting Helmo Avenue and Bielenberg Drive. Once the Gold Line enters Woodbury, it would run north-south following Bielenberg Drive, then turn onto Guider Drive toward Woodlane Drive and I-494, where the corridor ends.
Three station areas have been identified in Woodbury. Two stations will be walk-up stations including the Tamarack Station, located on Bielenberg Drive approximately one-third mile north of Tamarack Road, and the Woodbury Theatre Station, located on Guider Drive near the Woodbury 10 Theatre. The third station, the I-494 Station, will include a park-and-ride lot. This station, located at the intersection of Guider Drive and Woodlane Drive, will also serve as the terminus of the Gold Line route.
Questions can be directed to Liz Jones at Elizabeth.Jones@metrotransit.org.
When is the Gold Line anticipated to be operational?
Construction for the Gold Line is scheduled to begin in 2022 and expected to be in service in 2025.
Why does the city support the Gold Line?
The city’s support for the Gold Line is firmly connected to its commitment to providing an effective transportation system that serves community stakeholders and better connects the city with the rest of the region. The Gold Line would provide additional transit access and reliability between the eastern suburbs and the growing regional transitway system.
Although private cars are the most commonly used mode of transportation for many Woodbury residents, public transit is an important alternative to automobile use and serves as one part of a multi-modal transportation strategy for the community. The Gold Line will offer new opportunities for residents, employees and business owners by strengthening connections between eastern suburbs and St. Paul, including access to jobs, housing, services and recreation/entertainment.
- The Gold Line project will provide all-day transit service to meet the existing and long-term regional mobility and local accessibility needs for businesses and the traveling public within the project area. There is currently limited transit service throughout the day and demand for more frequent service over a larger portion of the day exists.
- The Gold Line will assist local businesses in their employee recruitment by improving access for non-residents who desire employment and services within Woodbury. Outreach with employers in the city indicate support for this project. The Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce has voiced support for the Gold Line and its trail and pedestrian connections, as it will provide direct access to several of Woodbury’s top employment centers and will help eliminate transportation barriers and make it easier for local businesses to access a greater labor force.
- The Gold Line will provide additional economic development benefits by enhancing future development opportunities for those business users that value transit connectivity for their employees and customers.
- The Gold Line will improve residents’ access to jobs outside of Woodbury, including those residents who use the existing Express Bus system to get to jobs in Minneapolis or St. Paul. With its all-day frequent bi-directional service, the Gold Line will provide added flexibility if someone needs to leave mid-day or stay late.
- A diverse array of transit options not only offers convenience and accessibility and encourages healthy lifestyles, but it can also play a key role in achieving sustainability by reducing the need to expand roadways and limiting fuel consumption and air pollution.
- The Gold Line project includes the construction of a new bridge over I-94 connecting Bielenberg Drive to Helmo Avenue at no initial capital cost to the city. This bridge has been in the city’s Comprehensive Plan for two decades, but would have been difficult to build without this project.
- The project includes significant reconstruction of aging city-owned roadway and trail infrastructure at no initial capital cost to the city. Investments by the project also include expansion of the trail and sidewalk networks to eliminate gaps in the existing system.
What is the city's role?
Transit is considered a regional system, and as such the Gold Line is under the purview of the Metropolitan Council, the region’s metropolitan planning organization. It is the lead agency responsible for design, engineering, environmental review and community outreach as well as building and maintaining the line. The Gold Line project team includes staff from Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County, Washington County and MnDOT. Metro Transit, which is the primary public transportation operator in the Minneapolis St. Paul area, will operate the Gold Line.
The City of Woodbury’s involvement has been as a stakeholder and the City Council has adopted a resolution, which outlines the city’s priorities as they relate to the Gold Line project. In addition, Woodbury staff have served on advisory committees throughout the design process to help advance and refine the design and ensure that issues unique to Woodbury are being addressed.
How does the 2040 Comprehensive Plan provide guidance and support for the Gold Line?
The city’s support for the Gold Line is firmly connected to its commitment to providing an effective transportation system that serves community stakeholders. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan affirms this long-standing commitment through its guiding principles, one of which is to:
Woodbury is dedicated to providing diverse and effective multi-modal transportation systems that ensure the accessibility and connectivity of community amenities. As the city evolves and transportation needs change, Woodbury must ensure that the transportation system serves community stakeholders. Growth will increase demand on the existing and future roadway system, and it will not be possible or desirable to accommodate this demand solely by building larger roads. While the city will accommodate the demand for safe, well-maintained roadways, it also recognizes that creative solutions are necessary that balance safe and efficient transportation with other aspects of quality of life in Woodbury, such as aesthetics, stormwater management and adjacent land uses. The city believes alternative forms of transportation such as busing, biking and walking are essential to the quality of life in Woodbury. As such, the city will continue its commitment to pedestrian accessibility and actively participate in efforts to expand regional transit systems that serve Woodbury and the eastern metropolitan area.
The Land Use Chapter of 2040 Comprehensive Plan (see pages 55-58) also outlines goals and policies related to the work that the City is doing on the Gold Line Station Area Master Plan.
The addition of all-day, bi-directional transit to these three station areas provides a unique opportunity for the city to optimize the potential development or redevelopment through the master planning process. The city will use this process to study and secure the appropriate combination of land uses for each station area based on each area’s unique development opportunities, market conditions and ridership potential. Master planning at the station areas will promote cohesive architectural identity using building materials, landscaping and other architectural or streetscape features to create a unique sense of place.
I've been reading about development along the Gold Line corridor. How will existing businesses, like the Woodbury 10 Theatre, be impacted by the project?
The City of Woodbury has been developing a master plan for the station areas along the Gold Line corridor. The plan does not propose to acquire any properties or close businesses. The plan will include land use recommendations and zoning regulations that will guide potential new development or redevelopment for the area and will enhance connectivity for existing businesses along the corridor.
In regard to the existing Woodbury 10 Theatre, there is a station planned to the north of the theatre, which would not impact the theatre site itself. It is anticipated that the future zoning will identify the theatre as an allowed use as the city views it as a complementary use to the proposed transit. Both the Woodbury 10 Theatre building and site are owned by the Metropolitan Council, and there is a lease between the theatre operator and the Metropolitan Council. The Station Area Master Plan will consider possible development scenarios in the event that either the land owner or the business operator determines that redevelopment should occur.
Why is the Gold Line project moving forward when transit ridership is down due to the pandemic?
The Gold Line project looks out more than 50 years as it provides additional transportation options for the City of Woodbury. Metro Transit’s Gold Line Project Office and Washington County provided the following perspective related to long-term ridership:
“Today, as COVID restrictions are slowly relaxing and as we navigate our new normal, Metro Transit continues to look beyond the pandemic to build the transit network of the future and be a part of our economic recovery.
The METRO Gold Line and Bus Rapid Transit are part of transit’s future, providing a frequent, all-day service. During the pandemic, existing BRT service had some of the highest essential rides. After the pandemic, ridership projections show that people will return to transit and will seek high-quality options with frequent service.
After the pandemic, Gold Line project partners know that even more people will need to get to work, education opportunities, daily errands and appointments, as well as recreation. As residents adjust to new working styles, commuting patterns are likely to look different. The fast, frequent, and all-day service of the Gold Line will provide residents the flexibility to ride anytime, without a schedule.”
How has information been shared with the public regarding the Gold Line project?
Planning for what would ultimately become the Gold Line began in 2007, with the I-94 Corridor Transit and Transportation Study. As the project has evolved over time, the City Council has discussed this item at many council workshops and meetings. As of May 1, 2021, there have been numerous public meetings about the Gold Line, all of which were noticed and open to the public:
- 17 City Council meetings,
- 15 City Council workshops, and
- 2 Economic Development Authority meetings
Information about the Gold Line was also shared through the City Update newsletter, which is mailed to every address in Woodbury. Since 2011, there have been 14 articles. The city has also used various social media posts to update the public on the project.
In addition to the city meetings and outreach, the Gold Line Project Office has held a robust public engagement process, which involved open house events, ‘pop-up’ events at various locations and community events, booths at the Woodbury Community Expo and Woodbury Days, etc. The Gold Line’s public outreach can be found on the Metro Transit website.
How much will the Gold Line cost and what are the city costs associated with the project?
As of April 5, 2021, the Gold Line Project Office has reported an estimated cost of $531.9 million, with 45% of the funding expected to come from the Federal New Starts program. The remaining 55% of the funding is split between a variety of mostly local funding sources including the two counties, Ramsey and Washington, and the State of Minnesota.
While the vast majority of the cost of the Gold Line are being born by other governmental agencies as noted above, the City of Woodbury will have some cost obligations as it relates to the Gold Line project.City capital cost included in the overall Gold Line project cost (pending final Council approval):
- $174,000 Hudson Road/Guider Drive trails, which represents the City cost share of $642,000 in new trail improvements on the South side of Hudson Road and north side of Guider Drive.
- $9,500 Bielenberg Drive trail (Tamarack Road to Stephens Way)
- $72,800 landscaping and lighting
- $3,100,000 landscaping and lighting; estimated construction cost
- $736,000 Bielenberg Drive trail (Tamarack Road to Stephens Way) estimated construction cost
- $169,000 Station Area Master Plan ($50,000 of which was funded by the Washington County Community Development Agency)
- $20,000 stormwater technical review, estimated
- $8,236 grant application assistance- Regional Solicitation
- $13,000 Bielenberg Bridge over I-94; estimate
- $150,000 landscaping, lighting and wayfinding; estimate
What are the Gold Line ridership projections?
The Gold Line ridership has been evaluated with a number of different ridership models over the past several years. According to Gold Line Project Director Christine Beckwith, “The federal “STOPS” model projects between 6000 and 6500 rides per day. When Gold Line begins operating, it is projected to be one of the region’s top ten busiest bus routes.”
Based on the FTA STOPS model, the following estimates have been provided by the Gold Line Project Office on riders per station:
- Tamarack Station: Under 100 trips per day
- Woodbury Theatre Station: Approximately 200-350 trips per day
- Woodbury 494 Station: Approximately 750-800 trips per day
Jobs adjacent to the stations (data from the US Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies, 2016):
- Tamarack Station on Bielenberg: 3,910
- Woodbury Theater and I-494 Park and Ride: 4,282
What is a 'dedicated guideway'?
The Gold Line will be Minnesota's first BRT line that operates primarily within exclusive bus-only lanes. Approximately 80% of the METRO Gold Line will have exclusive lanes dedicated only to buses, while the remaining portion of the line will operate in the existing roadway lanes.
These separate lanes ensure buses are not delayed due to traffic congestion, which provides more schedule consistency and reliability for the riders. In Woodbury, the Gold Line will run in a dedicated guideway in the middle of Bielenberg Drive from Woodbury’s northern border (I-94) to the Nature Path/Stephens Way intersection. The remainder of the route in Woodbury will operate in the existing roadway lanes. The maps below show where the dedicated guideway will be in Woodbury.
How frequently will the buses run?
The Gold Line is expected to run every 10 minutes during rush hour and every 15 minutes midday, evenings and Saturday. Less frequent service will be provided in the early morning, late at night and Sunday.
There is not anticipated to be overnight service (midnight to 5 a.m.). During rush hour, Express Buses will supplement METRO Gold Line service.
Will the Gold Line replace the Express Bus service?
The Express Bus system has been a valued service by many Woodbury residents and this service is planned to remain after the Gold Line is operational.
Much like the Express Bus service connects residents to jobs in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Gold Line will improve residents’ access to jobs outside the city including those residents who use the existing Express Bus. With its all-day, frequent bi-directional service, the Gold Line will provide added flexibility if someone needs to leave mid-day or stay late.
What is the economic development impact?
The Gold Line will assist local businesses in their employee recruitment by improving access for non-residents who wish to access jobs and services within Woodbury. It also provides additional economic development benefits by enhancing future development opportunities for business-users who value transit connectivity for their employees and customers.
Every year, Metro Transit’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) office publishes a report on development trends and regional growth along our high frequency transit networks.
What about the safety of the Gold Line?
The Gold Line will have enhanced security at the stations including cameras and emergency phones, fare enforcement by Transit Police and improved lighting along the corridor.
Woodbury Public Safety will work collaboratively with Metro Transit Police to enhance public safety and assist Metro Transit Police with any issues that arise. Additional information about safety can be found on the Metro Transit website.
Who do I contact for more information about the Gold Line?