When the Minnesota Department of Transportation completed the final segment of Hwy. 610 through Maple Grove two years ago, the agency built a ramp for westbound Hwy. 610 drivers to get onto westbound Interstate 94.
That's been "pretty sweet" for Drive reader Don, who often uses the connection to go north from Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove to places such as Rogers and Monticello. But he wonders why MnDOT didn't finish the work by building a ramp allowing motorists to access eastbound I-94 and make it easier to get to I-494 a few miles to the south.
"Will MnDOT be completing that any time soon?" he asked.
No, Don, it won't. There are no plans to build a ramp from westbound Hwy. 610 to eastbound Interstate 94 at this time, said MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard. The agency does not have the money for the project, he said.
While nothing is imminent, MnDOT eventually would like to build the missing ramp, Barnard said.
Meanwhile, Maple Grove badly wants to extend Hwy. 610 a bit farther west to connect with County Road 30, said Ken Ashfeld, director of public works for the city of Maple Grove.
"The city has been advocating for that piece of highway for a long time," he said. "It is one of the city's highest priorities to get this done."
Of course, a lot of that comes down to money, about $20 million. Last week the city got some help from the Met Council with a $7 million Regional Solicitation grant, one of 57 proposals in the metro area that received federal dollars for initiatives that meet regional transportation needs.
That leaves Maple Grove and its partner, Hennepin County, with the job of securing the rest of the financing needed to extend Hwy. 610. Plans call for a divided four-lane road between I-94 and County Road 30. The city also would put in a traffic signal for the planned ramp from Hwy. 610 to eastbound I-94 and realign the intersection at County Road 30.
If the city and county come up with the money, construction on the extension could start by 2020.
End of the line for Route 614?
It appears the days are numbered for Metro Transit's Route 614 bus serving Minnetonka. The Met Council Transportation Committee last week voted to hold a public hearing April 15 at the Ridgedale Library to hear comments on a proposal to eliminate the route.
Route 614 runs weekdays between Ridgedale and Minnetonka Heights in the southwestern corner of the city where there is a concentration of affordable housing. It also serves the 7-HI shopping complex at Hwy. 7 and County Road 101. It's used by so few people that the route is the most heavily subsidized in the Metro Transit system, at $23 per passenger, said Metro Transit senior planner Steve Mahowald.
Metro Transit has heavily marketed the route and distributed free ride coupons to boost ridership, but efforts have not filled up the buses.
"We've tried everything we could to keep this route alive," said Met Council Member Jennifer Munt. "It does not mean we are leaving people without transportation."
If approved, the last day of Route 614 service would be Aug. 16. Passengers in the affected area would be eligible to use Transit Link, the Met Council's dial-a-ride service that operates in areas where regular route transit service is infrequent or unavailable.
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