by Samara Postuma
Albertville mayor Jillian Hendrickson and council member Rob Olson, and St. Michael mayor Jerry Zachman and council member Chris Schumm, recently went to Washington, D.C., to talk to Minnesota elected officials Amy Klobuchar and Michele Bachmann about the Interstate 94 corridor between Rogers and St. Cloud.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation [MnDot] is in the final stages of updating its Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan. The current proposal includes no major expansion to Interstate 94 or other highways in Greater Minnesota.
“MnDot has no plans to expand I-94 in the next 20 years and this is a problem. We need six lanes,” Hendrickson said. The I-94 West Corridor from St. Michael to St. Cloud accounts for 40% of the congestion on MnDot’s Interregional Corridor system and crash and severity rates between Rogers and St. Michael are twice the statewide average.
There are federal grants available to the cities involved if the state and MnDot also invest in the project, but without MnDot’s support and resources, there will be no federal money, Hendrickson said.
The four city officials met with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Michele Bachmann, both of whom expressed support for the project, according to Hendrickson.
“They both see the need and want it to happen,” Hendrickson said.
In addition to Kloubchar and Bachmann, the four were able to meet with the top aides for both Erik Paulsen and Al Franken. Bachmann suggested the four also try to set up a meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton.
St. Michael and Albertville aren’t the only cities interested in the project moving forward; St. Cloud mayor Dave Kleis sent out a letter asking for various cities along the corridor to sign and present a resolution to MnDot’s new commissioner, Charlie Zelle.
“As you know, the I-94 West Corridor is a huge economic engine for cities and counties in central and western Minnesota,” Kleis wrote in a June 19 letter to Interstate 94 stakeholders, also noting that this corridor is critical to the tourism industry of Minnesota.
A decision on whether the corridor expansion would be funded by MnDot and federal monies won’t be known until the 2014 Legislative session begins.