Environmental groups concerned about I-94 project through north Minneapolis

Trucks and card drive on the interstate.
Vehicles drive along a stretch of Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and Interstate 694 on Wednesday. State transportation officials are looking at several options to ease traffic congestion and improve safety along I-94 between downtown Minneapolis and I-694. North Minneapolis residents and neighborhood groups will meet with state lawmakers and transportation officials Wednesday night to voice concerns over a proposed project affecting the Interstate 94 corridor.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR

State transportation officials want to do something about traffic and safety on Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and Interstate 694, as well as state Highway 252 between I-694 and Highway 610.

Minnesota Department of Transportation is considering converting a stretch of highway into a freeway and putting MnPASS lanes on I-94 and 252.

But some are raising concerns about what the proposed changes might mean for residents of north Minneapolis who live along the I-94 corridor.

Alex Burns is chair of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter's land use and transportation team. He said that more traffic on I-94 will mean more pollution for north side residents.

"When we're talking about turning 252 into a freeway, bringing more traffic down the 94 corridor, that's going to lead to more congestion on 94 and that pollution spills over to north side residents,” said Burns. “MnDOT has talked a lot about decarbonizing transportation and incorporating equity into its lens on projects. But we're concerned that that's not really being looked at seriously here."

Story continues below graphic.

Highway 252 and Interstate 94
State transportation officials are looking at several options to ease traffic congestion and improve safety along I-94 between downtown Minneapolis and I-694, and state Hwy. 252 between I-694 and Hwy. 610.
Courtesy of MnDOT

Burns said he wants to see a bus rapid transit option for the I-94 corridor, similar to bus options in Minneapolis on Interstate 35W.

The Sierra Club, along with several other neighborhood groups, are hosting a meeting with local residents and state lawmakers to discuss the MnDOT plans Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Farview Recreation Center Community Room.

Earlier this year, MnDOT held open house events to gather feedback on ideas for the corridor.

“We are not going into this process with a preconceived notion or the plans already drawn up in our heads,” said MnDOT communications specialist Kent Barnard. “We're really trying to look at what the best solution is for the community and for the commuters and the environment and all the other various facets of a project like this."

Barnard said the goal is to gather feedback and continue working on plans through 2020 and 2021. Tentatively, construction along the corridor could start in 2023.

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