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|Rush Line Corridor|
|Type||Commuter rail line|
|Locale||Minneapolis – Saint Paul metro area; Ramsey, Anoka, Washington, Chisago, and Pine counties|
Saint Paul Union Depot|
|Line length||80 mi (130 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The Rush Line Corridor is a transport corridor and proposed commuter rail service that would run from Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul to Hinckley, Minnesota. It roughly follows the path of U.S. Route 61 and Interstate 35. Along with the Red Rock Corridor in the southeast and the Southwest Corridor in the southwest metro, it is considered a "Tier Two" commuter rail project with scheduled implementation after 2020. Efforts to improve the corridor are coordinated by the Rush Line Corridor Task Force, formed in 1999 and composed of 22 elected officials from counties and municipalities along the corridor.
Commuter rail costs are expected to be high if implemented, due to the multiple railroads operating the tracks, additionally some sections of rail would have to be rebuilt on county-owned abandoned rights-of-way. Existing rail is a combination of Class I and Class III railroads. Despite a relatively high population density, projected ridership is lower than originally anticipated because commuters are split in their final destination, mostly downtown Saint Paul or downtown Minneapolis. If built, it could connect with the proposed Northern Lights Express in Hinckley and provide a more direct link between Saint Paul and Duluth.
Alternatives to commuter rail have been presented, including the implementation bus rapid transit throughout the corridor or light rail in the Ramsey County portion, from Union Depot to White Bear Lake. Despite having significantly lower operating costs than commuter rail, light rail would require taking lanes on East Seventh Street in downtown Saint Paul, additionally track right of way would run close to residential structures.
Currently,[when?] the Ramsey and Washington county portions of the corridor are served by local Metro Transit bus routes. In September 2009, the Metropolitan Council awarded $3.4 million to extend the existing park and ride facilities at Maplewood Mall. In September 2010, a commuter bus service is expected to begin service in the corridor. Originating from Columbus and Forest Lake, the route is planning a stop in White Bear Township en route to multiple stops in downtown Saint Paul before terminating at Union Depot. Ridership is expected at 200 persons a day. The Rush Line Task Force and the Metropolitan Council are looking for access to county and federal funds to cover capital costs.
A preliminary study was released in September 2015 by the Rush Line Task Force narrowing down the options to 4 types of vehicles and routes that will be considered for the project. The options include:
A second phase of the study will be completed during Winter 2015 and Spring 2016 timeframe, according to page 5 of the Tier 1 Evaluation Results report.