Community Voice Impacts How Rethinking I-94 Moves Forward in 2022 as MnDOT Agrees to Redraft Project Goals & Priorities
Throughout 2021, Move Minnesota and local partners have been pushing for a focus on community wellbeing, climate action, and transit access as MnDOT rethinks the I-94 corridor between Minneapolis and Saint Paul. After months of working to mobilize advocates, engage decision-makers, and raise awareness, we are excited to be closing out the year with new progress on this important issue.
Rethinking I-94 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to act on the climate crisis and prioritize the health of our communities and future generations. So, this fall, when we saw MnDOT’s draft goals and priorities for Rethinking I-94 focused on improving the speed and convenience of driving as a top priority, we were ready to push back.
Move Minnesota, Our Streets Minneapolis, and allied groups helped hundreds of people speak up through MnDOT’s community conversations and public comment period. Move Minnesota also joined 28 community organizations in sending a joint letter reminding MnDOT staff and leadership of what’s at stake and urging them to do better.
As Move Minnesota’s Executive Director, Sam Rockwell, shared in the corresponding press release: “Our transportation system’s status quo is broken and unacceptable—it prioritizes the movement of cars over the movement of people, over justice and sustainability, and over long-term prosperity. This misplaced priority is particularly evident along I-94, where a disproportionate number of residents are transit dependent and where exhaust can make the air dangerous to breathe. MnDOT must craft a Purpose and Needs Statement that looks forward and reduces vehicle miles traveled, consistent with MnDOT’s own goals, instead of entrenching our inequitable past.”
This month, we’re seeing encouraging signs that our collective voices are being heard. Acknowledging the influx of public comments as well as our joint comment letter, MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher announced that agency staff will be redrafting the Rethinking I-94 Purpose and Needs documents to reflect comments from the community and from the City of Minneapolis and City of Saint Paul!
Our thanks and appreciation to Commissioner Anderson Kelliher for being responsive at a critical time. We look forward to working in partnership with MnDOT staff as they follow-through on these much-needed changes in early 2022. We are excited to see how community wellbeing, climate action, transit access, and MnDOT’s own goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) can be reflected and more strongly prioritized. As part of that process Move Minnesota and allies will continue to push MnDOT for dedicated transit lanes on I-94 between the Twin Cities’ downtowns and for safe biking and walking connections across the highway and its frontage roads along with VMT reduction goals in the Rethinking I-94 document.
MnDOT staff have also committed to more frequent Rethinking I-94 Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) meetings every other month. These meetings are important spaces for public testimony. More frequent meetings will allow community members to better understand the issues at hand and get involved in speaking in the new year.
MnDOT’s commitment to revising Rethinking I-94 goals and priorities is a big opportunity and a signal that your advocacy is making a difference—but this isn’t a done deal. We strongly encourage residents to continue reaching out to MnDOT and to your elected officials in the Twin Cities to speak your values and influence this project as it moves forward. Tell them:
- I want to see a rethinking of I-94 that brings our communities clean air, a stable climate, some peace and quiet, and really great transit connections. We don’t need more cars rushing through here.
- Please add dedicated transit lanes on I-94 between the Twin Cities’ downtowns and ensure safe biking and walking connections across the highway and its frontage roads. Please include these in your top priorities for Rethinking I-94.
- MnDOT must address the harms that this highway has caused in local communities of color like Rondo & Frogtown in Saint Paul and Cedar Riverside in Minneapolis—and work to right these wrongs for families today and for the next generation. Please listen to the needs of these communities.
- MnDOT must seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to act on the climate crisis and prioritize the health of our communities and future generations. The rethinking of the I-94 corridor must reduce driving, reduce climate pollution, and achieve cleaner air.
Big thank you to every community member, decision-maker, and ally who has gotten involved in this effort so far! And special thanks to Our Streets Minneapolis, our other partners on the Rethinking I-94 Community Leaders table, and every organization below who co-signed the joint comment letter. Stay tuned for more ways to take action together in 2022!
- Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota
- Cedar Riverside Community Council
- Creative Enterprise Zone
- Elliot Park Neighborhood Association
- Environmental Law and Policy Center
- Fresh Energy
- Hamline Midway Coalition
- Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate
- Lexington-Hamline Community Council
- Macalester Groveland Community Council
- Midtown Greenway Coalition
- Move Minnesota
- Neighborhoods First!
- Our Streets Minneapolis
- Prospect Park Association
- Resilient Cities and Communities
- St. Anthony Park Community Council
- Saint Paul Bicycle Coalition
- Seward Neighborhood Group
- Seward Redesign
- Sierra Club North Star Chapter
- St. Paul 350
- Sustain Saint Paul
- TakeAction MN
- The Alliance
- Union Park District Council
For more on Move Minnesota’s work to advocate for a Rethinking I-94 that puts people and our planet first, visit our Rethinking I-94 page.