Business and civic leaders in Minneapolis are continuing to press state lawmakers for money to upgrade Nicollet Mall.
The bus and pedestrian thoroughfare was last overhauled more than 20 years ago. City officials want to spend $30 to $40 million to revamp the 12 blocks and they hope to use state-backed bonds to cover part of the cost.
Members of the Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee visited Nicollet Mall Wednesday.
Mike Ott, an executive at US Bank, told the group that modernizing the mall is vital to projecting a positive image of the city.
"We have nearly 3,000 employees right here at headquarters and in the downtown area," Ott said. "So when we think about Nicollet Mall, we think about the commerce, we think about the people, we think about the draw that it is for our employees and all of our clients who come visit us."
Ott and others promoting the renovation took legislators on a tour of the downtown Minneapolis thoroughfare, and pointed out problems including deteriorating pavement. The tour was part of a broader look at roads, bridges and other public facilities around the Twin Cities.
State Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, who chairs the committee, said it's a worthwhile project. But before allocating bonding money, Hausman said she wants to make sure there's a measurable benefit to the state.
"What you have to convince yourself of, is when does the state have an interest in a local street? It's not just to refill potholes," Hausman said. "So what we're struggling with is what is the impact?"
Last month a Minneapolis task force chose a design team to lead the overhaul. Planners hope to start work on the Nicollet Mall project in 2015 and have it done the following year.