The shovels are in the ground, literally, for the Interstate 94 expansion between Rogers’ Minnesota Highway 101 interchange and St. Michael’s Highway 241.
But with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Gov. Mark Dayton’s office continued request for “Corridors of Commerce” recommended projects – the same program that got this stretch of road construction underway – the Interstate 94 Coalition is set to jump.
The Corridors of Commerce program solicitation announcement we’ve been waiting for has just been announced (see below)! We are fortunate that I-94 qualifies for 3 of the 4 funding categories that fit MnDOT’s criteria. But, we need your help in having our collective voices heard by MnDOT to select I-94 for another phase of this critical funding! The following is a quick link to their website project proposal area where we ask that you and/or your organization please submit the following I-94 regional project under both the Interregional Corridor Capacity and Statewide Freight Bottleneck categorieshttp://www.dot.state.mn.us/corridorsofcommerce/commentform.html.
The deadline for submittal is Wednesday, September 17th so your immediate help with submitting this project is both needed and appreciated. If you would rather submit a letter than fill out the online submittal, please send your letter to MnDOT Commissioner, Charlie Zelle at 395 John Ireland Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155. I’ve attached a sample letter that you can feel free to edit and use. You can even submit both online and mail a letter if you’d like!
The following is suggested language to insert into your response under the above link:
Environmental and Preliminary Engineering of I-94 Four Lane to Six Lane Expansion from TH 241 to TH 25 at a cost of approximately 1.5 million dollars.
There are a number of benefits/rational you can include in your request that help support our project need including:
- There is overwhelming support from businesses and the community from the Metro Area to St. Cloud and beyond for this critical project.
- The project is supported by I-94 Coalition as a high priority.
- MnDOT District 3 has demonstrated though past project and corridor studies that capacity improvements to this segment are needed.
- I-94 is a national freight arterial and is one of the state’s highest truck volume, tonnage, and value corridors carrying 7,500 Heavy Commercial Vehicles per day.
- I-94 from TH 101 in Rogers to TH 23 in St. Cloud accounts for 40 percent of the congestion on MnDOT’s Interregional Corridor System yet only accounts for 1.6 percent of the system length which negatively affects quality of life for the residents and businesses in the region.
- This project is along a key route to freight and travel to North Dakota’s oil fields which are proving to be an economic benefit to the Minnesota Economy via I-94.
- Return on Investment (ROI) criteria for this segment is among the highest in Greater Minnesota.
- This section of freeway is the gateway to Minnesota’s top tourist destinations carrying over 2 million tourist trips per year.
- This project would address safety issues along I-94 as the proposed segment contains crash and severity rates of almost twice the state average.
- MnDOT is already planning near term pavement improvements on this segment which would be the most cost effective time to construct the requested capacity improvements.
- Construction of this I-94 expansion could easily be phased into feasible construction projects and no additional right of way is needed to construct the project.
The I-94 Coalition believes the above project has the best chance of getting funded not only for this initial necessary engineering and environmental work but also for future construction phases through potentially more Corridors of Commerce project funding. This is due to the recent and upcoming I-94 Metro Improvements to I-94, TH 610, and TH 494, in addition to the 6-lane plan of MnDOT District 3 for this segment. I-94 from the Fish Lake Interchange to TH 101 in Rogers would certainly qualify as a Metro Capacity Improvement in addition to the Interregional Corridor Capacity and Statewide Freight Bottleneck categories but considering the Metro projects already planned and the fact that Met Council will be weighing in on the Metro projects, the I-94 Coalition believes the Four Lane to Six Lane Expansion from TH 241 to TH 25 is our best hope for having a high priority I-94 project selected. We ask for your support and input to MnDOT for this project.
As was stated by our great State and Federal Representatives at our recent “Phase 1” (TH 101 to TH 241) project ground breaking, “our work is not over yet” and we need your help. Please send out and share this request with others and use this opportunity to let your voice be heard in support of needed I-94 improvements! Also, please post this link in your newsletters and on your websites if possible to help gain more supporters. There will also be a link on the coalition websitewww.greenlight94.com. Thank you for your continued help and support for I-94 and let us know if you need any more information when preparing your project request submittal.
And here’s the proposal request from MnDOT:
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is seeking recommendations for road and bridge projects that will be funded by Corridors of Commerce funding, according to MnDOT officials.
Corridors of Commerce funds projects support economic growth through targeted regional investments that help improve the movement of freight and reduce barriers to commerce. The 2014 legislation makes available up to $25 million in 2015. The primary intent of this funding is to prepare eligible projects for future years should additional funding be made available.
“Transportation investment is key to our state’s economy,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “The work we do with this funding spurs economic growth in the near term through construction jobs and, in the long run, creates a commerce-friendly network of corridors that we can rely on every day to move goods and people efficiently across our state.”
The 2015 funding can be used for right of way acquisition, environmental study work and preliminary engineering, as well as other project costs. MnDOT will collect project recommendations during the next two weeks and will announce the selected projects in October.
Since 2013, the Legislature has provided $331.5 million in Corridors of Commerce funding for projects statewide. The first program projects started this year and include:
- Lane addition on Interstate 94 from Highway 101 to Highway 241 near St. Michael
- Expansion of Highway 14 to four lanes from Highway 218 to County Road 43 near Owatonna
- Passing lane additions on various sections of Highway 2 and Highway 34 in northwestern Minnesota
“We are working hard to make our transportation system more effective and efficient,” Zelle said. “A good transportation network serves the economy well and improves the quality of life for all of us.”
To recommend a Corridors of Commerce project or to learn more about the program, visit www.mndot.gov/corridorsofcommerce.