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Continued: Sketchy plan has 10 lanes, fast timeline

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON and CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 15, 2007 - 12:36 AM

McFarlin said LRT would also take up three of the 10 lanes.

Many of MnDOT's answers to the council members sought to tamp expectations.

But Council Transportation and Public Works Chairwoman Sandy Colvin Roy was intrigued by an aspect of the proposal that would eliminate rail spurs on the north end of the bridge. She said that option would allow the bridge to be level, so traffic merging from the north would have better sight lines than the previous uphill approach.

Plan includes closing streets

The plan also would permanently close SE. 2nd Street. Hofstede asked whether in-depth traffic studies had been conducted on such a closure. The answer was no. The plan also would close off a stretch of 14th Avenue S. that is adjacent to I-35W and would put cul-de-sacs at each end.

Council Member Elizabeth Glidden was concerned about how five lanes of northbound traffic on the bridge would flow into the three lanes currently on the interstate.

Tom O'Keefe, an area manager with MnDOT said there are no plans to add capacity from the south, but "we've got a high level of comfort this does not create a new bottleneck."

The idea is that the fifth lane would pick up merging traffic in each direction and then lead into an exit at the opposite end, O'Keefe said.

Colvin Roy asked what it would take to ensure the bridge is strong enough for LRT.

O'Keefe said the agency is looking at that. The cost, however, would likely have to be borne by the state, and officials were unable to say how much that would be.

Chiglo told the panel that MnDOT would like a resolution from the city endorsing the project.

Eventually, the city will be asked to do more than that, by providing a formal approval called municipal consent to MnDOT's final layout for the bridge. Municipal consent requires specific timelines, and coordination will be necessary to meet the goal of MnDOT to have a replacement bridge by the end of next year.

Colvin Roy said that once a plan is submitted, the city has 15 days to give 30 days' notice for a public hearing. After the hearing, the city has 90 days to submit a response to MnDOT. The city has several options for a response: approve, disapprove or disapprove with conditions.

MnDOT is not required to yield to the city's wishes, but McFarlin said proceeding without city approval would be difficult because it would lengthen the process and potentially push back the completion date.

"The commissioner of transportation can move forward despite municipal opposition for interstate projects. It takes a significant amount of time to get to that point," he said.

raolson@startribune.com • 612-673-1747 curt.brown@startribune.com • 612-673-4767

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