Residents and business owners in two north metro suburbs are getting a clearer picture of what the future Hwy. 252 might look like.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation last week released a draft document featuring three designs the agency is considering as it looks to improve safety and mobility for motorists and people who walk, bike and use mass transit in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park.

MnDOT is looking to transform the busy expressway plagued with crashes and congestion into a four-lane freeway with bus-only shoulders, a six-lane freeway with bus-only shoulders or a six-lane freeway with an E-Z Pass lane. A fourth option would to leave the highway as-is.

The concepts emerged from more than 40 that have been proposed over the years. Officials will give a presentation to the Brooklyn Center City Council April 10. The agency will also hold an in-person open house to show off the possible designs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 18 at Discover Church, 1400 81st Av. N. in Brooklyn Park, and an online meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 on April 27.

MnDOT will accept comments through May 19. Feedback can be submitted through the project website or by emailing MnDOT officials aim to begin construction by 2026.

Tim Harlow

Washington County

County board extends hotspot lending program

The Washington County Library will continue a program started in 2020 to lend internet hotspots after the County Board this week approved funding for it.

The program, which allows library patrons to get online from home, began in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic when Washington County used funds from the federal CARES Act to make the mobile hotspots available.

The program was extended once before with $141,120 from the Emergency Connectivity Fund and the American Rescue Plan Act. The service has been popular from the start, said Washington County Library technology manager Drew Wylie.

"During COVID, a lot of libraries stepped in to help people get internet from home," he said.

Today, the library has 150 hotspots available, plus another 50 that come paired with a laptop computer. As of this week, all of the hotspots were checked out, with a few down for repairs. Some 77 people are on the waiting list, Wylie said.

The agreement signed this week will allow the library to extend the program until October 2024. The $142,800 cost of the extension was paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Matt McKinney

St. Louis Park

Funding available for rain gardens

State funding from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment was awarded to St. Louis Park in March, and will be used to help residents build rain gardens to facilitate rainwater re-absorption.

Residents would be expected to pay $50 for design services to the nonprofit Metro Blooms. Crews from the Conservation Corps of Minnesota will build the gardens this summer, and homeowners will take care of plantings.

The $24,000 state grant will be split among 30 residents who apply online by April 30. A lottery will be used to choose who gets the state funding if more than 30 residents apply.

Josie Albertson-Grove