OAKDALE - The Metropolitan Council is moving ahead with the public engagement phase for the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit project.

Last week, the council hosted the first of a series open houses intended to gather community comment on the nine-mile, round-trip route that will run from St. Paul to Woodbury.

About 60 people attended a July 18 open house at Guardian Angels Catholic Church in Oakdale.

The Gold Line will run from Union Depot through the East Side of St. Paul, Maplewood, Landfall, Oakdale and Woodbury.

The impact on communities along the route is significant, since the busses will run primarily along new bus-only lanes. Ten new stations are planned, including a proposed Tamarack Road Station and Woodbury Theatre Station near Bielenberg Road.

Feedback from the cities, businesses, neighbors and future riders will help determine where exactly the stations will be located, Met Council spokesman John Schadl said. Other issues could include "whether or not we leave space for a city to build a bike path."

"This is an iterative process," Schadl said. "As we move forward with it and get more and more detailed with the design and engineering, it will change. Which is one of the reasons we have to keep engaging the public."

Mary Dicke came to the open house from her home in Hudson, Wisconsin. She scanned maps of the course, laid out miniature railroad style on tables.

"I live in Wisconsin, so it doesn't go far enough," she said.

But Dicke said the Gold Line would save her from driving all the way to her job at Hennepin Health in Minneapolis. She could drive from Hudson to Woodbury and take the Gold Line to Union Depot, where it connects with Green Line light rail transit.

"I think it looks good," she said.

The Gold Line is expected to be in service by 2024 with construction beginning in 2022.

Last year, the Met Council took over management of the project from the Gateway Corridor Commission, now renamed Gold Line Partners.

More information is available at www.metrotransit.org/gold-line-project. Visitors can also sign up for a project newsletter and updates.