Dayton will help pay lobbyist for I-94 project

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS
  • Star Tribune
  • February 2, 2010 - 5:38 PM

The Dayton City Council has agreed to pay half of a $27,000 fee for a lobbyist seeking funds to build a new interchange on Interstate Hwy. 94 at Brockton Lane.

The project recently won $800,000 in federal money for final design and environmental studies.

Backers say the proposed interchange would boost development in the area, particularly the 638-acre Stone's Throw housing and commercial project on the south side of the site in Rogers. The Stone's Throw developer, Hassan Mainstreet, has hired the Tinklenberg Group lobbying firm for three months and asked Dayton to share the cost.

Before the council's recent unanimous vote, several members asked why other cities that would benefit from the interchange, including Rogers, Corcoran and Maple Grove, haven't chipped in.

"My only concern is we shouldn't shoulder this alone because it will be a regional benefit," said Council Member Tim McNeil. "I hope in the future to see them [other cities] participate as well."

McNeil said that he wanted to move the project forward and that the $13,500 share Dayton is paying is within the $50,000 the city budgeted for interchange costs this year. "I expect there's an understanding that this is our budget and we will live within it," he said. "But we are likely to need more funding than what a small city like Dayton can provide on its own."

Rogers Administrator Steve Stahmer said he was asked by Dayton's administrator, Samantha Orduno, whether Rogers could share lobbying costs.

"I told her that at this point Rogers has other transportation priorities," particularly interchange improvements and a fly-over ramp to be built this year from I-94 to northbound Hwy. 101. He said Rogers strongly supports the Brockton interchange and lobbied legislators for it last March, when he and four council members traveled to Washington, D.C. Their efforts helped the city win about $10 million in federal funds for the fly-over, he said.

Dayton Mayor Doug Anderson said he also traveled to Washington in the spring and September to lobby the Minnesota congressional delegation. He said that he worked with Elwyn Tinklenberg in seeking money for the interchange and that the efforts helped to win federal support. Total cost of the interchange is estimated at $28 million to $34 million, he said.

So far the project has at least three potential funding sources:

• Stone's Throw has agreed to contribute $9 million to build the interchange, said Hassan Mainstreet co-owner Tom Gump.

• U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen has requested $10 million for interchange construction in a House highway reauthorization bill, said Paulsen spokesman Luke Friedrich.

• The city of Dayton has applied for $17.7 million in federal stimulus funds for the project and should hear whether the money is granted this month, Anderson said. He said Tinklenberg will lobby for both funding options.

Officials have said the interchange final design and environmental studies will take more than a year, after which the construction could begin.

If built, the interchange would reduce freeway congestion in the region and improve emergency response to crashes on the freeway, which has no access for more than five miles from Hwy. 101 in Rogers to the 95th Avenue exit in Maple Grove, officials said.

Dayton hopes to develop land near the interchange site and has more than a dozen businesses along Hwy. 81 near the site that also would benefit, Anderson said. "Being able to get trucks in and out, that is the life flow of commerce out here," he said. "It is an interchange that needs to happen."

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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