Having secured lane expansion from St. Michael to Albertville, the I-94 Corridor Coalition is not taking a pit stop.
To the contrary, the group that is facilitated through the I-94 West Chamber of Commerce is very much keeping its foot on the pedal for more northwest metro transportation improvements.
A packed house greeted a handful of legislators and other leaders who updated efforts to continue transportation expansion at an I-94 West Corridor Coalition Legislative Preview Breakfast Feb. 7 in Rogers.
“Our state legislative preview lays out our current position really well,” Coalition President and St. Michael City Administrator Steve Bot said. “We are focused this legislative session on securing bonding for completing Hwy. 610 Interchange and related supporting roadway system.”
The mission of the Coalition is to provide a strong, united voice to advocate for and address transportation concerns along the I-94 corridor, from Maple Grove to St. Cloud. Assisting that effort, and present at the meeting, were State Representatives Lisa Demuth, Eric Lucero, Tama Theis, Kristin Robbins, Marion O’Neill, and Representative-elect Paul Novotny. Joining them were Senators Warren Limmer, Mary Kiffmeyer and Bruce Anderson.
Bot said the group was disappointed that Gov. Tim Walz didn’t put Hwy. 610 completion in his bonding bill, “but are really excited that Representative Kristen Bahner (Osseo-Maple Grove) and Kristen Robbins (Maple Grove/Rogers) fought hard to get it including in the House version of the bonding bill which it is.”
Next up, Bot said the Coalition is hoping Senator Limmer can get it included in the Senate version of the bonding bill with the ultimate goal of having it included in the final bonding package.
“We are also continuing to work with MnDOT on finding funding to compete the expansion in the Albertville to Monticello section,” Bot said.
Coalition legislative goals remain:
• Fund the completion of the Maple Grove Hwy. 610 Interchange in the 2020 bonding package.
• Allocate additional funding to the Corridors of Commerce program.
• Ensure that an efficient, cost effective, and transparent process is used when selecting projects to receive a portion of the trunk highway bonds and the $25 million per year in cash allocated to the Corridors of Commerce program. It is imperative that Interregional Corridor projects are a priority, such as expanding I-94 capacity to six lanes from Albertville to Monticello, and eight lanes from the Fish Lake Interchange to Rogers.
• Include an efficient freight system that enhances Minnesota’s economic competitiveness in national and international markets.
• Continue and expand funding for the Transportation Economic Development (TED) program. A collaboration of MnDOT/DEED, a community grant program for highway improvement and public infrastructure projects to create jobs and support economic development.
“We’ve experienced major success over the past years with the opening of additional lanes between Highway 101 in Rogers and Highway 241 in St. Michael, which have resulted in a 55% reduction in total travel delay and the completion of nearly 3 million square feet of new industrial development in the region,” the Coalition said in its update of 2020 Minnesota Legislative Priorities.
Bot concluded, “Overall, we are excited to see around $400 million of investment being spent over the next two years to improve mobility and safety along I-94 between Maple Grove and Clearwater including added lanes and a new interchange at Dayton Parkway. These successes would not have been possible without the unwavering support and strong advocacy of our legislators, local elected officials, chambers, businesses, residents, and MnDOT which we are so grateful for.”