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Lawmakers Continue Push to Overhaul 494-35W Interchange

March 29, 2017 06:33 PM

Would you like to see the legislature approve $85 million in spending to improve the I-35W and 494 interchange by adding a northbound and westbound ramp? Or, are there other transportation needs in Minnesota you'd rather see addressed? Let these lawmakers know your views!

Read the story below and take action above. 

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Ask drivers around the Twin Cities, and you'll get an earful about the Interstate 494/35W interchange on the line between Richfield and Bloomington. But plans years in the making to overhaul the concrete morass are once again bottlenecked at the State Capitol.

"I avoid it like the plague," Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina, said about getting stuck in traffic in that area. 

Rosenthal is pushing a bill that would fund an overhaul of the interchange. The $255 million project would be built in phases and include a series of new ramps and loops to take all left-turning traffic in a circle around the central bridges where the freeways currently cross, eliminating the short on- and off-ramps.

The plan was devised years ago but has failed to gain legislative traction.

"This is the least expensive option and will have the most bang for its buck," Rosenthal said.

Lawmakers got details during a hearing Wednesday afternoon. As of now, the project is not included in the transportation plan currently being considered at the Capitol. Many opponents have balked at the cost, but Rosenthal said that's only going to grow, and the project is an area that needs to be improved.

"Well, the longer we wait, the more expensive it gets," he said.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation reported the area is over-capacity, with more than 250,000 vehicles passing through each day. In addition to significant delays, local officials say the area also sees a high number of crashes.

Rosenthal said he doubts the bill will be adopted this year, but will continue to lobby for its passage. If not this year, he said, hopefully next.

"We've underfunded transportation for so long," he said.

Credits

Matt Belanger

Copyright 2017 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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