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City column: Transit station is good addition

The city council and I got to cut into a ribbon last week for an early holiday present to Rosemount: our first dedicated facility to serve as a park and ride for commuters. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority began operations this month at the Rosemount Transit Station, across 145th from city hall.

It was a gift that was a long time coming. True, for much of Rosemount's 154-year history, we didn't need a transit station. Rosemount was a stand-alone community. Almost everyone who lived here worked nearby. If you had to travel, you braved the mud and ice on Dodd Road.

Or maybe you caught the trains that stopped at the depot that used to stand just a few yards down the track from the new facility. I saw a newspaper clipping from 1907 that advertised a passenger train, leaving Rosemount at 8 a.m. and arriving in Minneapolis at 8:55. (Fortunately, the MVTA's express bus 478 is quicker, and in much worse traffic.)

The growth of that highway traffic and of our ties to the rest of the Twin Cities are the reasons the city of Rosemount worked hard to get a park and ride facility. The council believed bus service needed a permanent home closer to the heart of our downtown, with parking spaces dedicated to handle commuter traffic. And a shelter would certainly be welcome on our winter days.

Now we're pleased to see the result. And we expect the number of our citizens who use this facility to grow through the years, especially when the MVTA adds service. We hope for an express route to St. Paul soon. And we are hopeful that the early planning under way for transit service on the Robert Street corridor will give Rosemount residents additional options.

I referred to this as a holiday gift. But Rosemount has earned this amenity. Through the cooperation of the agencies involved, we were able to speed up the funding. We're grateful to the MVTA, the Dakota County Community Development Agency, the Met Council and MnDOT, for working with us to get this station open this year.

The number of people this station serves will only grow. We expect to see our population double in the next few decades as the university property is developed east of the new facility. Not so long from now, MVTA may need to change its new sign to read "Rosemount Transit Station - West." In the meantime, I am sure this facility will serve our residents well.

My colleagues on the city council and I wish for the blessings of the season for you and all our residents. We look forward to another great year in Rosemount.