In a dramatic reversal, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has halted the new Stillwater Bridge project and redirected the funds to pedestrian and transit projects across the state. When streets.mn asked MNDOT about the sudden decision, MNDOT spokesman Brian Anderson-Johnson replied,
After careful research, we realized that there are pedestrian corridors and transit projects that carry much more traffic each day than the proposed new bridge. We also learned that these projects are located in the heart of our state’s most economically productive places, and these investments would have dramatically higher returns on investment for our state than a bridge to some corn fields. We were shocked to learn that money for pedestrian projects in particular pales in comparison to what we spend on state highways and interstates. We aim to correct this imbalance. We kind of regret that bridge idea, I guess we were just doing what we’ve always done.
Projects targeted for the redirected funding include an expansion and bypass of the Macy’s skyway bottleneck in Minneapolis, which carries 28,000 trips per day, or 150% of the bridge’s forecasted traffic, support for the Nicollet Mall rebuild project, which carries 20,000 pedestrians per day, or 110% of the bridge’s forecasted traffic, an upgrade to the dynamic signage for Metro Transit’s blue line, which carries 30,000 trips per day, the build-out of an 11-line arterial BRT system, which would carry 137,000 trips per day, and sidewalk resurfacing in downtown Stillwater near that one really popular ice cream place.
Anderson-Johnson said that the approximately $100 million remaining balance after expenditures on the other projects would be used to implement congestion-based tolling on the I-94 bridge over the St. Croix to improve traffic flow.
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