Thanks to your advocacy, Representative Samantha Sencer-Mura (63A) and Senator Omar Fateh (62) have introduced bills in the House and Senate to commission a comprehensive feasibility study of Twin Cities Boulevard, an I-94 highway-to-boulevard conversion between downtown Minneapolis and Saint Paul. This feasibility study is critical to ensure that the community has an opportunity to legitimately consider options that do not rebuild the highway and better understand how I-94 impacts their lives. The bill needs to be heard in either the House or Senate Transportation Committee before the legislature’s committee deadline of March 24, 2023, to be considered for inclusion in a larger transportation spending bill.
We recently learned that the Our Streets Minneapolis application to fund a feasibility study via a USDOT Reconnecting Communities Program grant was not selected. While disappointing, legislation is another path forward to understand cost, traffic, climate justice, public health implications, and more.
The bill needs to be heard in either the House or Senate Transportation Committee before the committee deadline of March 24, 2023, to be considered for inclusion in a larger transportation spending bill. To ensure that this happens, contact Transportation Committee Chairs Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble and voice your support for these bills so that they receive a committee hearing date before the deadline.
You can also use the sample message to call the offices of Representative Hornstein and Senator Dibble and leave a voicemail.
Hi [Senator Dibble OR Representative Hornstein]. My name is [Name] and am reaching out to urge you to schedule a committee hearing date for House File 2270 & Senate File 2180, which would commission and fund a comprehensive feasibility study of a highway-to-boulevard conversion of I-94 between the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
There is an urgent need to fund a feasibility study this year. The future of this corridor is currently being planned via MnDOT’s Rethinking I-94 project. This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair the highway’s historic and ongoing harms, invest in racial, economic and environmental justice and reconnect every community in the project corridor.
The impacted community deserves an opportunity to consider a future without the freeway. MnDOT is now designing initial project options. Despite a pledge to "rethink" I-94 and consider all options, MnDOT's process prioritizes traffic and ignores the highway’s intersectional harms.
A feasibility study would help to answer questions about the possible benefits and impacts of a boulevard conversion, particularly for those who live near I-94 and who experience the highway's harms daily
Please commit to supporting this important legislation and scheduling a committee hearing before the deadline.
About the Feasibility Study
Why a feasibility study is needed:
While a boulevard conversion option will likely be considered as part of the Rethinking I-94 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process, the EIS process does not consider many of the highway’s historic and ongoing impacts and the potential benefits of removing it. Federal and state law limit what can be considered as part of the EIS review, so a separate study is needed to account for these intersectional impacts. Additionally, the EIS process also only seeks to mitigate additional impacts instead of repairing past and ongoing harm.
MnDOT's process also uses biased traffic models and prioritizes repairing pavement and moving more car and truck traffic over addressing I-94's severe impacts on the environment and the people who live, work and go to school near it. This makes it difficult for non-highway options to move forward in the process. A feasibility study would help to ensure that a boulevard conversion is fully evaluated and receives fair consideration.
What a study would include:
The study would help the public and decision makers better understand how a future without the highway could work and the benefits for the surrounding community. It would also help to answer common questions about highway removal, including how traffic would be impacted.
An I-94 boulevard conversion feasibility study would evaluate:
- Cost & Implementation
- Transportation access, freight & traffic
- Climate and environmental justice
- Racial equity
- Traffic safety and public health
- Economic opportunity, housing, and businesses
- Tax revenue and regional land use changes
- Highway removal projects in other cities
- Anti-displacement and community benefit policies