Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Highway 252/I-94 Environmental Review

Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis

Project Manager Newsletter

Amber Blanchard, the project manager of the Highway 252/I-94 study in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis

Amber Blanchard, Project Manager

January 2024

Happy 2024 and welcome to the first of many monthly newsletters highlighting the Hwy 252/I94 Environmental Review. I am Amber Blanchard, the new project manager tapped to lead this important project as it enters the next phase of the environmental review process. I am a civil engineer and have worked at MnDOT my entire career which spans almost 25 years, specializing in project delivery. That means I work in the long-term planning process involved with making big transportation projects, which can begin years before a shovel ever touches ground. My job is to shepherd projects from conception to reality, delivering projects to construction.

I have had the privilege of working on some very challenging projects including reconstruction of I-494 in Minnetonka; the reconstruction of the collapsed I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, as well as the repair of the Historic Stone Arch Bridge, which is set to start construction this year. Most recently, I completed preliminary design and stakeholder involvement of the I-494 project in Bloomington and Richfield, planning the first phase of reconstruction that is part of a series of long-term improvements planned for this vital regional corridor.

I joined the Hwy 252/I-94 project in October, quickly getting up to speed on the work done so far. This newsletter is an effort to create ongoing communication about the project. I’d like to also share some other recent staffing changes. Ryan Wilson has been named West Area Manager and project sponsor, succeeding Mark Lindeberg. At the same time, we also added Ben Klismith, West Area Engineer, replacing Christina Perfetti.

My goals for the environmental review are transparency and collaboration as we work together to choose an alternative that works for most everyone on the Hwy 252 and I-94 corridors.

Since early November, the team has been busy working on several items to get ready for the next phase of environmental work expected to begin this summer.

  • The public engagement plan is currently being updated. This plan explains the strategy, tools, and overall engagement for all the upcoming phases of the environmental process. 
  • The Final Scoping Decision Document was completed in November 2023 and next up is the Notice of Intent (NOI). The NOI is part of the federal process and will explain that MnDOT and FHWA are about to start an environmental impact statement on Hwy 252/I-94. There will be an opportunity for the public to comment during this phase.
  • The next Policy Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting will be held virtually on February 1 from 1-3 pm. The public is invited to attend and listen in. You might notice a change in the agenda for the Feb. 1 PAC meeting. There will not be time dedicated at the end of the meeting for public comment. The focus is to allow space for gathering feedback from the PAC members as we head into the first phase of the draft environmental impact statement. There will be opportunities for the public to provide feedback in the environmental process beginning this summer. Our goal is to have more presence in the communities of Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, and North Minneapolis throughout the environmental process.

If you have questions or comments that you would like to discuss, please reach out to me or any of the MnDOT team.