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MnDOT asks community to weigh in on future of I-94, with eye on righting history's wrongs

MNDoT looking for input in on future of I-94
MNDoT looking for input in on future of I-94 02:28

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Odds are you've driven on Interstate 94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul, as it has connected the two cities for more than half a century. Now, the Minnesota Department of Transportation says, when it comes to the road's future, what's next could be up to you.

State leaders say the infrastructure is aging and will soon need repairs. As that begins, MnDOT is also looking to right some wrongs made when the freeway was originally built, including damages to historically Black areas the freeway cut through.

MnDOT and other partners of the project are talking and listening to community members, but not everyone believes the state is committed to doing enough.

"We are early. We're at like mile two of that 26-mile marathon," MnDOT's Sheila Kauppi, who is directing the I-94 project, said. "We learned a lot in the '50s and '60s when we built the interstate system. One thing we learned is that we needed to listen to communities differently."

On Wednesday, Kauppi was talking with people like Bryan Lair, who lives nearby, about what's best when it comes to the future of the freeway.

"I think it's a good start, I wouldn't mind seeing more non-highway options on the table. Maybe something that considers the growing diversity of the ways people travel, not only mass transit, but also cars and biking," he said.

Kauppi says this is a continued approach of listening MnDOT began in 2016, and will continue to do until it settles om a plan for developing I-94, something they hope to do by 2027.

Advocates from Our Streets Minneapolis say they're not convinced MnDOT is willing to do anything other than a highway design.

"If the highway is expanded or rebuilt, those harms are going to continue for literally for another generation," Jose A. Zayas Caban said.

They're asking for the highway to be scrapped in favor of a boulevard connecting the two cities. MnDOT says right now they're still listening to ideas and are taking everything into consideration.

"It's balancing all of the feedback we've received, and making good sound decisions about moving forward that meets the needs of the majority of the people that we interact with," Kauppi said.

The listening session goes until 8 p.m. the Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul.

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