Considering Crow Wing County is one of eight counties in the state that does not have a coordinated countywide system of transportation, a county commissioner indicated Thursday it's time to get rolling.
The Crow Wing County Board supports this system and is working on providing the service to residents sometime in 2001. An area transportation task force has been gathering information on the system since 1998. This group consists of city officials from Brainerd, Crosby and Crosslake, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Region 5 Development Commission.
"I don't want to re-create the wheel," county commissioner Jim Hill said at a transportation subcommittee meeting. "We need some kind of system, so let's get on with it."
The nine-member subcommittee discussed paperwork deadlines. A joint powers agreement between Brainerd and the county needs to be completed in mid-July. A few commissioners and council members will start working on this agreement.
To help reduce the costs, the county may complete a Region 5 Area of Aging grant application. The application deadline is Aug. 7. The intent of this grant is to lessen the costs for the elderly, said Roger Germann, subcommittee member at large and of Region 5.
The group also has to complete a 2001 Public Transit Participation program application by Sept. 1 to the Minnesota Department of Transportation to receive state funding.
If the county would join with Brainerd, both could save money. For the first year, the county's operating expenses would be about $120,000 and Brainerd's would be about $247,000. If the two combined, the county's share would be about $54,000 or 33 percent of the costs. Brainerd would pay about $164,000 or 67 percent of the costs.
Sue Siemers of MnDOT said the state will only fund the project if there is a joint powers agreement between the county and city. MnDOT would pay 65 percent, or $113,000, of the operating costs and 80 percent in capital equipment costs. About $23,000 would be brought in through ridership revenue.
A countywide transportation system would have three routes on Highways 371, 25 and 210. The system would be offered to everyone of all ages. If everything falls into place, residents could ride the transit system by May 2001.
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