by Sam Jones
Crow River News
Congressman Tom Emmer was joined by Monticello Mayor Lloyd Hilgart, officials from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and representatives from St. Michael and Albetville in a Trailblazers bus to get a first-hand look at the construction progress on Interstate 94 between St. Michael and Hasty.
There are currently a handful of closures, lane changes and construction zones along this stretch of highway that officials had an opportunity to see and have explained.
“I thought it was a great event,” said Emmer. “It is often said that you can tell how significant a transportation project is by the number of elected officials that show up, and we had three mayors, we were there, a council member … it was a great group and a great presentation. I give our transportation commissioner, Margaret Kelliher a lot of credit for what they put in front of us. Not just the materials, but the hands-on part to travel the actual corridor and have them not just explain what they are doing, but point it out.”
Emmer says there was lots of positive feedback from the group present, which is gratifying after all of the hard work on behalf of city, county and state officials to get the ball rolling.
“There’s a lot of growth, and Nadine Schoen, one of the [St. Michael] city council members, tried to give us a compliment at the end for all the work we have been doing, and I had to point out to Nadine, who I have known now for over a decade, it really is the elected officials in local communities, including St. Michael, Albertville, Monticello, all of those along the corridor,” he said. “This is the most important highway from Chicago to the state of Washington, and this stretch from Maple Grove to St. Cloud is getting more and more pressure with each passing year.”
This added pressure brings a few opponents of the project, but Emmer assures residents that all of the potential delays or inconveniences will definitely pay off.
“It really is local officials working with their state and federal counterparts to make something really good that is going to benefit not just commerce, but it’s going to improve safety, and I am going to argue it is going to improve quality of life,” he said. “There are always going to be some that find the glass half empty, but I find that a majority of folks realize the glass is half full and this is a good thing. We are growing, moving forward and ultimately it is going to be good not just for those communities, but the state of Minnesota too.”
Emmer said MnDOT also plans to install noise barriers to help mitigate sound pollution for neighboring residents, and are conducting lots of studies and recording data to ensure best practices and efficiency moving forward.
“A road or a bridge is neither a republican or a democrat, it’s something that we all need and we all appreciate when it is done,” he said. “At the end of the day, just look at what is going to happen. Whether you’re in Hanover accessing the I-94 corridor from St. Michael, or you’re in one of those cities along the highway, it’s going to be worth the wait.”