Email MnDOT to Put Communities First in Rethinking I-94 Planning Documents

The Rethinking I-94 project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine the corridor and improve the lives of people who experience the freeway's harms daily. Unfortunately the current Purpose and Need documents fall short of that vision. These documents continue to prioritize moving more traffic and make little effort to rethink the freeway. These documents must be changed to prioritize the needs of local communities by reducing pollution, improving multi-modal access, and reconnecting communities.

The letter below problems with the current Purpose and Need documents and recommends changes. MnDOT is actively accepting feedback and your comments are critical.

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Dear Rethinking I-94 Project Team & Decision Makers,

My name is [NAME]. I am reaching out because the draft Rethinking I-94 documents ignore the needs of the people who experience the freeway’s harms daily.

MnDOT spoke of a transformative and healing project when they created Rethinking I-94. However, current planning documents fail to meet that vision. The draft Purpose and Need documents assume the reconstruction of the freeway and prioritize moving more traffic and more pollution instead creating healthier air quality, reduced carbon emissions, reconnected communities and better transportation options. MnDOT is required by Minnesota statute 174.01 to improve multimodal access, environmental justice, equity, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions in its transportation projects. However, these needs are currently being ignored.

The current Rethinking I-94 documents put the needs of commuter traffic and the freight industry ahead of improving the hazardous air quality that contributes to some of the state’s highest asthma rates and disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous residents. The documents prioritize fixing pavement conditions instead of fixing the mental and physical barrier that the I-94 trench created through neighborhoods. They make little attempt to improve transportation options for undocumented immigrants, people who cannot afford a car, people who are mobility impaired and others who make up the over 25% of transit-dependent households along the corridor. For these reasons and more, the documents in their current form are unacceptable.

MnDOT should eliminate the distinction between "primary" and "secondary" needs and amend those needs to prioritize the following outcomes:

- New options and improved access for people walking, rolling, biking and taking transit.

- Reconnected communities by restoring the local street grid along the entire corridor.

- Improved air quality and reduced noise pollution.

- Eliminates fatalities and serious injuries for all transportation users along and across the corridor.

- Climate action. Transportation is Minnesota’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. We must reduce emissions by increasing access to sustainable transportation options and prioritizing strategies that reduce vehicle miles traveled.

- Economic prosperity without displacement. MnDOT should work with partners to implement anti-displacement strategies so existing residents and businesses can enjoy the project's benefits.

The proposed evaluation criteria and measurements similarly over-prioritize moving traffic on the freeway. It is inadequate for important concerns like equity, public health and the environment to be sidelined into a separate “Livability Framework” process which MnDOT is not accountable for. The following amendments should be made to the Evaluation Criteria:

- Measure transportation access for all users instead of speed and delay

- Measure transportation access within the broader corridor and consider existing and potential projects like the Green Line, B Line and a Saint Paul extension of the Midtown Greenway

- Model current and future greenhouse gas emissions and other transportation pollutants resulting from the corridor.

- Add measures of induced demand and Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) reduction. This would be in compliance with the VMT reduction goals of MnDOT, Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

- Define safety as reducing serious injuries and deaths for all transportation users. Metrics should account for walking, rolling and biking trips that are not currently taken because of unsafe infrastructure.

- Measure current and model future transportation-related noise levels along the corridor and at sensitive locations like schools

I urge you to amend the draft documents for Rethinking I-94. This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to replace the freeway with a transportation corridor that benefits local communities by reducing pollution, improving multi-modal access, and reconnecting neighborhoods. The project must aim to create better communities, not a better highway.

Thank you for your consideration.

Who to Contact:

Project Email:[email protected]

BCC Decision makers and project team: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

 


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