St. Paul City Council supports ‘Rethinking I-94’ concept, but wants more than expanded traffic lanes

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Architectural renderings courtesy Design by Melo and Visuals by James.

By Jay Kolls, KSTP Eyewitness News. Originally published February 4, 2021.

The St. Paul City Council passed a resolution supporting a Minnesota Department of Transportation Concept of “Rethinking I-94”, which could be a major reconstruction of Interstate 94 between Highway 55 to the west and Marion Street to the east in St. Paul.

But, St. Paul City Council member Dai Thao told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the resolution also calls for more than just expanded traffic lanes, if and when the project is approved.

“We want to work with MnDOT and there should be a partnership and a collaboration,” said Thao. “These are our tax dollars that belong to all of us and so how do we piece it together so that we all have ownership and it’s something we could be proud of including economic justice, environmental justice and an overall project that represents all of our diverse communities.”

Reconnect Rondo is an organization that supports the St. Paul City Council resolution as it proceeds to advocate for a 21-acre land bridge over the freeway where the old Rondo neighborhood, which was predominantly African-American, lost over a thousand homes when I-94 was first built nearly a half-century

Reconnect Rondo Board Chairman Marvin Anderson told KSTP it would be ideal to do the “Reconnect Rondo” land bridge at the same time MnDOT does the “Rethinking I-94” project.

“Blend in affordable housing, a marketplace for small entrepreneurial jobs, such as book stores, coffee shops and other things,” said Anderson. “It is a chance to right the wrong that was done decades ago when there was destruction of Rondo.”

Reconnect Rondo Manager Keith Baker said the timing is right for reconnecting the old St. Paul neighborhood because the federal government has stated it wants to provide racial justice and equity.

“I would say it is now a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Baker.

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