by Sean Cote
SUN PRESS INTERN
Members of councils for the cities of St. Michael, Albertville, and Otsego met at Otsego City Hall recently met to discuss the status of the Interstate 94 West Corridor Coalition, an organization of local governments and businesses lobbying to make transportation along the I-94 Corridor more efficient.
The corridor is plagued by heavy congestion and higher crash rates in a region with high freight traffic and the fastest growing population outside the metro area. Steven Bot, city administrator for St. Michael, gave an update on the status of the resolution to acquire the necessary funding through the federal government.
The plan would expand I-94 by adding travel lanes, especially one from Monticello to Maple Grove, and two bridges to ease traffic congestion and mitigate crashes. The estimated cost of the plan is $25 million. Bot stated that, “We just need the money to do it,” but explained that the trouble is spreading awareness and convincing the federal government and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) to approve funding.
He explained further that the transportation authorities are only looking at the big picture by averaging congestion problems instead of attending to focused areas like I-94. This averaging has led to the misconception that I-94 is not as problematic a traffic route as it actually is.
However, both Rep. Michele Bachmann and Rep. Erik Paulsen have offered their support for funding the plan, each requesting more than $6 million in the next Surface Transportation Authorization Bill. “We’re at the table … we’re in the conversation,” Bot said, referencing how the plan is in the legislative process. He said that there might be a study on the corridor to better assess the problem and a green light/red light campaign in August might help the coalition’s cause.
The coalition encourages anyone who wishes to support the I-94 expansion funding efforts to email, call, or write to Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken about the growing traffic problems along the I-94 Corridor.