Freeway construction damaged homes and destroyed neighborhoods, but an ongoing project by the Minnesota Department of Transportation hopes to improve communities.
ST PAUL, Minn. — When it comes to “Rethinking Interstate 94,” there’s a lot on the table.
Construction of I-94 in the 1960s destroyed homes and disconnected neighborhoods, including St. Paul’s Rondo community, but a long-term effort by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to improve communities along a 15-mile stretch of I-94 in St. Paul is now underground.
“The reason we decided to get involved is because this project is ongoing and a lot of decisions are being made at this time,” said José Zayas Cabán with Our Streets.
Our Streets Minneapolis is pushing to replace the freeway with a boulevard. For several years now, Reconnect Rondo has pushed for a land bridge to reconnect the historic Rondo neighborhood.
And right now, MnDOT says it’s considering all options. ReConnect Rondo has been working in the community on a land bridge proposal for several years and the Our Streets Twin Cities Boulevard proposal was first suggested in early 2022.
This comes months after the Department of Transportation announced up to $1 billion in projects to reconnect city neighborhoods destroyed by highways.
“And now is a time for us to start thinking about it, like other cities across the country. Recently the state of Michigan, they are quite specifically taking a huge step removing one of their highways,” said Cabán, adding, “This funding goes toward visionary approaches to removing these harms.”
A spokesperson with the project told KARE 11:
“MnDOT has not applied for federal funding as the agency is currently in an environmental review process phase of the ReThinking I-94 project, in which we are gathering information and identifying all possible alternatives. Due to the need to preserve the integrity of the environmental review process, at this time the agency is unable to seek dollars that would specifically fund one alternative versus another.”
But as the department continues to engage the public, organizations like Our Streets hope to continue having a seat at the table.
“Bring forward alternatives that truly repair the harms done to these communities,” said Cabán.
Information for the next Rethinking I-94 Transit Study public meetings:
Tuesday, October 11, 2022
Transit Study Virtual Public Meeting
9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 12, 2022
Transit Study In-Person Public Meeting
8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
For important meeting information, visit the Rethinking I-94 meetings page here. Written comments may also be submitted.
For more information on Our Streets, visit the link here.
For more information on ReConnect Rondo, visit the website here.
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