State wins federal traffic grant

  • Article by: LAURIE BLAKE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 14, 2007 - 3:44 PM

Minnesota has won a $133 million federal grant to open toll transit lanes on Interstate Hwy. 35W from Minneapolis to Lakeville, as well as reconfigure some downtown Minneapolis streets for better bus service, Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday.

Minnesota has won a $133 million federal grant to open toll transit lanes on Interstate Hwy. 35W from Minneapolis to Lakeville, as well as reconfigure some downtown Minneapolis streets for better bus service, Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday.

In an arrangement familiar to commuters on Interstate Hwy. 394, the state will outfit the existing carpool-bus lanes in Burnsville, Bloomington and Richfield with electronic toll collection and extend the lanes into Minneapolis and Lakeville by widening the freeway shoulders.

"I believe this is one of the most significant transit improvements we've had in this region for many years," Rybak said. "It will make it possible for us to realize our vision of a dedicated bus rapid transit from Lakeville into the heart of downtown Minneapolis allowing transit riders to get to work significantly faster than people driving alone in a car."

Rybak said he lobbied heavily for the money in Washington D.C. before the Interstate Hwy. 35W bridge collapse on Aug. 1. The federal funding will pay for the complete rebuilding of Marquette and 2nd Avenues through downtown to widen sidewalks, enhance bus stops and create two bus lanes on each street, Rybak said.

"Right now it sometimes takes as long to get through downtown as it does to get to downtown and this will dramatically reshape that," Rybak said.

The changes on 2nd and Marquette will make it possible to remove most buses from Nicollet Mall and leave Nicollet with only low-emission hybrid buses and bikes, he said. "The net result will be an extraordinarily important improvement in transit that will affect riders from every part of the region."

The streets must be rebuilt by the end of 2009.

Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711

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