Maple Grove gives support for I-494 expansion

Mayor Steffenson testifies in favor of 3rd lane

Maple Grove Mayor Mark Steffenson headed to the Minnesota Capital March 4 in order to testify in favor of a possible future project that would add a third lane to Interstate 494 from Interstate 694 (Fish Lake Interchange) in Maple Grove south to Interstate 394 in Minnetonka.

The House Transportation Policy Committee heard from chair Rep. Ron Erhardt who introduced a bill which would propose upcoming I-494 rehabilitation work be changed from a dynamic shoulder to a permanent third lane.

Mayor Steffenson testified to the committee he was in favor of the long-term solution for a third lane in the corridor.

“All of 494 has three or four general purpose lanes except this section,” Steffenson said. “The incremental cost to add the full third general lane is insignificant compared to the other costs incurred by having to sit in traffic all the time, whether for businesses or for our residents who could be spending more time with their families.”

He also talked about the fact that I-694, where the dynamic shoulder lane was going to be built, is now going to be a third general purpose lane, although this area of I-494 has higher traffic volumes and is more important to traffic flow in the metropolitan area.

“Obviously, for our residents and individuals living in the northwest suburbs, it would mean significantly fewer and shorter traffic jams, and for our neighborhood streets, it would mean that individuals who drive on our streets today because of the traffic on 494, they would be back on the freeway where they belong, not causing safety and other issues on our neighborhood roads,” he added.

Plymouth Mayor Kelli Slavik, Twin West Chamber of Commerce member Deb McMillan and I-494 Corrdior Commission Chair Brad Aho also testified in favor.

John Griffith (West Metro Area Manager, MnDOT) explained that the third lane solution would cost an extra $25 million that has not been budgeted at this point, and the redesign of the project would cause substantial delay in the execution of the project.

Rep. Erhardt recommended that the bill be re-referred to the House Floor and the motion prevailed.

If the project is approved construction would take place from late July through November 2016.