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Budget tightens on Newport transit station project

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Budget tightens on Newport transit station project
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

Plans for a Red Rock Transit Station in Newport are being scaled back slightly.

In order to stay on budget for the proposed $2.4 million commuter transit project, Washington County Senior Planner Andy Gitzlaff had to rearrange a few numbers -- roughly $200,000 worth.


Gitzlaff said budget constraints and long-term planning forced a re-evaluation of necessity versus luxury on the project. Last week he shared with the Newport City Council eight changes that will save thousands on the project, to be located at the former Knox building site near Highway 61 and Interstate 494.

"I appreciate your willingness to consider these changes so late in the process," Gitzlaff told council members Thursday, March 21. "In redevelopment projects like this we often see unforeseen changes. The proposed changes and modifications address maintenance concerns and bring the cost back in alignment as we move forward."

Gitzlaff said while the cost savings may seem like big changes, the main amenities of the project are intact and the overall design of the transit station has not changed.

A design modification that is estimated to save nearly $60,000 is a 19-foot reduction at the western end of the transit canopy. The shortened length would eliminate one bay of columns within the canopy, which is the covered structure where transit users would wait for a bus. Gitzlaff said the reduction does not change the overall square footage of the building.

A design change that council members rejected was a proposed reduction in the height of the entry monument from 30 feet to 24 feet. Gitzlaff said the 6-foot reduction in the sign would not detract from the visibility and be more in line with the height of the transit canopy.

However, the council disagreed.

"(The entry monument) is going to be important and it needs to be very visible," said council member Bill Sumner. "We should put in a good sign now. The sign is going to mark the entrance into the city."

The current design of the entry monument includes a square column with metal meshing. Letters will be affixed to the monument identifying the city of Newport and a light positioned at the base would illuminate the column.

Other council members said the sign is an important fixture that would display the character of the station and should not be reduced in size.

Newport Mayor Tim Geraghty said while he supports the other seven modifications, he does not approve of shortening the monument and directed Gitzlaff to keep the 30-foot monument.

Other modifications include:

- Reduce the plaza area by 10 percent

- Replace colored concrete bands in the passenger plaza area with concrete bands that are the same color as the other concrete

- Remove the car bumper overhang maintenance strip in the parking lot and replace it with sod

- Reduce the number of trees on-site by 24

- Remove the amenities on Lot 2 (outside the transit site), including the seating wall and plantings

- Reduce the topsoil depth to four inches

Emily Buss
Emily Buss joined the South Washington County Bulletin in February 2013. She covers local government in Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport, along with other general assignment reporting. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
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