A planned extension of Highway 610 in the northwest Twin Cities took another major step forward Wednesday.
A key committee of the Metropolitan Council recommended the Minnesota Department of Transportation continue planning for the $86 million project. The money will come from federal stimulus dollars.
Julia Whalen is a Champlin city council member who serves on the Transportation Advisory Board, the committee that advanced the project's status.
"The fact that 610 is on there is just awesome because it keeps that [project] ready to go, shovel ready as we've been saying when we decided option one or option two there's no delay," she said.
The Met Council committee is expected to vote mid-April on final recommendations for Twin Cities road projects funded with stimulus money.
One of the options is to use stimulus money to rebuild the Highway 169-Interstate 494 interchange.
The advisory board stopped short of approving plans to rebuild the 169/494 interchange.
Paying for both projects would soak up nearly all of the federal transportation stimulus dollars set aside for the Twin Cities at the expense of dozens of smaller projects.
Committee member Robert Lilligren, a Minneapolis City Council member, said there are still design questions about the 169/494 interchange rebuild.
"It's not really a go like a lot of the projects that are being considered and it's forcing us to encumber a considerable number of funds -- some $73 million -- into the future," Lilligren said. "So, I think the best way to set ourselves up for the next rounds is to get these smaller projects going and they have the added advantage to putting people from a broader representation of economic sectors to work."