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File #: 2023-506   
Type: Administrative Item Status: Passed
In control: Board of Commissioners
On agenda: 11/21/2023 Final action: 11/21/2023
Title: Amendment to the Capital Grant Agreement with Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County for the Project Development Phase of the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project
Sponsors: Public Works
Attachments: 1. First Amendment to Capital Grant Agreement #21I040, 2. Resolution

                                                                                                         

Sponsor: Public Works

 

Title

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Amendment to the Capital Grant Agreement with Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County for the Project Development Phase of the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project

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Recommendation

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1.                     Approve the Amendment to the Capital Grant Agreement for the Project Development Phase by and among the Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County, and the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority for the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project.

2.                     Authorize the Chair to execute the Agreement.

3.                     Authorize the County Manager to enter into agreements and contracts and execute amendments to agreements and contracts in accordance with procurement policies and procedures, provided the amounts are within the limits of funding.

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Background and Rationale

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The METRO Purple Bus Rapid Transit Project (Project) entered the Project Development (PD) phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program on December 10, 2021. As initially envisioned, the Project was a 15-mile dedicated guideway bus rapid transit project between Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul and downtown White Bear Lake generally along Robert Street, Jackson Street, Phalen Boulevard, Ramsey County rail right of way co-located with the Bruce Vento Regional Trail and Highway 61. In spring 2022, it became clear that the project would not go to downtown White Bear Lake resulting in the understanding of a Route Modification Study.  The initial phase of the Route Modification Study evaluated multiple locations for a new northern terminus, including Maplewood Mall Transit Center, I-35E & County Road E park & ride in Vadnais Heights and Century College. Results of this phase concluded that terminating at the Maplewood Mall Transit Center proved to be the option that would likely qualify for federal funding. Following the conclusion of the initial phase, additional engagement took place where concerns were raised about the profound changes seen by public transit since 2020 and their impact on the Project. This resulted in Project taking set back to evaluate the Maryland/White Bear Avenue routing option so that it could be compared to the routing option along the Bruce Vento Regional Trail. This new routing option diverges from the existing Bruce Vento Trail route at Maryland Avenue and travels along Maryland and White Bear avenues until reaching Beam Avenue and traveling to the Maplewood Mall area. Options for the route to continue beyond Maplewood Mall Transit Center will continue to be explored during the evaluation of this new route.

 

Because of the evaluation of a new routing option, the completion of PD will take additional time. On November 3, 2023, the FTA granted the Metropolitan Council an extension of the PD phase until December 9, 2024. This extension ensures that the project remains eligible for future federal matching funds. Currently, the project is 100% funded by Ramsey County and the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority through the Capital Grant Agreement for the Project Development Phase of the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project with the Metropolitan Council (Agreement). The Agreement was entered into by the Metropolitan Council, Ramsey County, and the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority to manage agency roles and obligations during PD. The Agreement expires on December 8, 2023, and needs to be amended for regional railroad authority funding to continue to be used on the Project.

 

The First Amendment to the Capital Grant Agreement for the Project Development Phase of the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project with the Metropolitan Council (Amendment) provides for continued regional railroad authority funding for the Project. This Amendment does the following:

                     Extends the term of the Agreement to December 31, 2025.

                     Amends the Initial Grant Activity Period to continue through the selection of the Locally Preferred Alternative, which is anticipated by September 2024.

                     Creates a Second Grant Activity Period that commences after the selection of the Locally Preferred Alternative through completion of the PD Phase or December 31, 2025.

 

The total funding commitment between the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority and Ramsey County for PD remains unchanged at $39,900,000 and will continue to fund the following tasks:

                     Project Management

                     Advanced Engineering/Design

                     Environmental Reevaluated and Peer Review

                     Public Engagement

 

Funding for PD will be provided in accordance with the funding commitment resolutions approved by Ramsey County and Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority through separate board actions. Funding commitments are consistent with financial projections made for the Ramsey County Transit Portfolio Status and Financial Projection workshop held on November 3, 2020.

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County Goals (Check those advanced by Action)

       Well-being             Prosperity                 Opportunity                 Accountability

 

Racial Equity Impact

The METRO Purple Line BRT Project will serve a racially diverse area. The METRO Purple Line BRT Project provides transportation connections to areas of concentrated poverty where more than 50% of the residents are racially and ethnically diverse and Indigenous people. In these areas, auto ownership rates are low, and people depend on public transit for access to jobs, health care, shopping, and other trips. Other neighborhoods along the route, while not considered areas of concentrated poverty, are becoming more racially and economically diverse and are home to a significant number of households that do not own a car. The METRO Purple Line BRT Project will improve access to opportunities by providing more frequent, reliable, and comfortable service that is better connected to job centers, neighborhoods, parks and recreation, and other parts of the regional transit system.

 

Community Participation Level and Impact

The METRO Purple Line BRT has established a Communication and Public Involvement Plan.  The Communication and Public Involvement Plan addresses the need to communicate and engage with multiple audiences within the corridor and across the region. A well-informed and engaged public strengthens the project and helps create a more useful transit system for all. The Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, and the project’s local funding partner, Ramsey County, understand the need to engage corridor stakeholders in the development of project details and in fostering broad support for the project as a necessary investment to improve access and mobility to employment, educational and economic opportunities within the corridor and beyond.

 

Purple Line project staff (project staff) has sought to engage corridor residents, businesses, organizations, and transit riders in the project planning process to solicit their input and address their needs and concerns. Concerted effort has been given to communities that have been traditionally underrepresented in transit planning processes: people of color, low-income communities, people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), people with disabilities, and other historically marginalized groups.

 

A framework has been established for how public engagement activities will be conducted for Route Modification Study Phase II between the months of July 2023 and December 2024. Engagement and public feedback will inform the evaluation of the White Bear Ave Corridor and the identification of the preferred White Bear Ave design concept. The White Bear Ave Corridor runs from the BRT guideway near Johnson Parkway, along Maryland, White Bear, and Beam Avenues, to an endpoint near the Maplewood Mall and St. John’s Hospital.

 

The METRO Purple Line BRT project updates and project factsheet can be found here:

<https://www.metrotransit.org/purple-line-project>

 

  Inform              Consult                                 Involve                      Collaborate        Empower                     

 

Fiscal Impact

The $39,900,000 requested to fund the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project’s Project Development Phase is available in the Public Works Multimodal Capital Projects.

 

 

Last Previous Action

On October 5, 2021, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners approved the Capital Grant Agreement with the Metropolitan Council and Ramsey County for the Project Development Phase of the METRO Purple Line Bus Rapid Transit Project in the amount of $39,900,000 (Resolution B2021-216).

 

Attachments

1. First Amendment to Capital Grant Agreement #21I040