MnDOT awards more than $400 million in Corridors of Commerce projects
ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation today awarded a total of $417 million to four projects as part of the Corridors of Commerce program. The projects, intended to improve the state transportation system in ways that specifically support Minnesota’s economy, will begin during the next four years.
“Since 2013, the Corridors of Commerce program has funded projects that are important to the health of our transportation system and business climate, but not afforded in our four-year transportation investment plan,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “The selected projects will enhance the movement of freight and people in the regions where these projects are located which will aid the economy and reduce congestion.”
The four projects receiving Corridors of Commerce funding in 2018 are:
- Highway 169 in Elk River (Greater Minnesota) – estimate up to $157 million
This project will convert Highway 169 in Elk River to a freeway. The proposed project will construct interchanges at Main Street and School Street, 193rd Avenue, and a partial interchange at 197th Avenue. Project submitted by Justin Femrite, Elk River city engineer.
- Highway 494, France Avenue to Highway 77 (Metro District) – estimate up to $134 million
This project will construct a MnPASS lane on Interstate 494 from France Avenue to Highway 77 in the eastbound direction and a MnPASS lane from Highway 77 to I-35W in the westbound direction. The proposed project is intended to improve the capacity of the interstate and dramatically improve the reliability of the average rush hour trip. Project submitted by Tony Fischer, Metropolitan Council.
- Highway 494, Bush Lake Road to Interstate 35W (Metro District) – estimate up to $70 million
This project will construct the first phase of a turbine interchange that includes a directional ramp for northbound I-35W to westbound I-494 traffic. The proposed project is intended to improve interstate capacity and reduce crashes. Project submitted by Karl Keel, City of Bloomington public works director.
- Highway 94, St. Michael to Albertville (Greater Minnesota) – estimate up to $56 million
This project will expand I-94 from four to six lanes between Highway 241 in St. Michael and County Road 19 in Albertville. The proposed project is intended to improve the capacity of the interstate by adding a third lane in each direction and make interchange improvements at Highway 241 and at county roads 37 and 19 in Albertville. Project submitted by several people including Steve Bot (St. Michael city engineer), Adam Flaherty (Otsego city administrator), and Adam Nafstad (Albertville city administrator).
In January, MnDOT solicited project recommendations from the public, including local units of government, transportation advocates and interested citizens. It also conducted significant public outreach when developing the scoring criteria. MnDOT received a total of 299 project recommendations. After duplicate work and ineligible projects were removed, the agency had 172 project recommendations valued at $5.5 billion.
With the assistance of a consultant engineering firm, the agency scored and ranked the recommended projects using a set of eligibility and selection criteria which were passed by the Minnesota Legislature and required under state law. Criteria included the proposed project’s return on investment, economic impact, freight efficiency, safety improvement, regional connections, policy objectives and community consensus. The final key requirement was that 50 percent of the funding be spent in Greater Minnesota, or those MnDOT areas that are not in the MnDOT Metro District, and 50 percent be spent in the Metro District, which is the seven-county metro area plus Chisago County.
“It is important to note that we followed direction set by the Minnesota Legislature regarding the solicitation, scoring criteria and geographic distribution of funding,” Zelle said. “We brought the scoring criteria to the public to get input prior to the solicitation. And, MnDOT did not put any projects in that solicitation.”
Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Legislature created the Corridors of Commerce program in 2013 to invest in projects that support commerce in the state, but that are not already considered in the state’s transportation investment plan. Since that time, the program has provided more than $330 million to dozens of projects across the state. For more information about the program, and to view the submitted project recommendations, visit www.mndot.gov/corridorsofcommerce.