Reporting Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Anyone who’s driven I-94 from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud might want to listen up.
Top state lawmakers from the area, including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, are asking Gov. Mark Dayton for help.
They say the state needs to step in, and end the traffic congestion that is choking that highway corridor for both commuters and businesses.
It’s apparently so bad that on their way up north, National Guard trucks get off the interstate in St. Michael to avoid the traffic and take city streets.
“In Minnesota’s 20-year transportation plan, there is no expansion of highway 94 even on the list,” Michele Bachmann said. “And that is unacceptable. We have to do the expansion.”
Dayton said he’s not willing to cherry pick one road project, and move it to the front of the line ahead of others around the state.
He told Bachmann’s group they would instead need to support a bipartisan, comprehensive statewide plan — including theirs — that carries a very hefty price tag.
“We are $12 billion short for the next 20 years under current revenue sources,” he said. “Just to maintain what we have now — just to keep the status quo without having it get worse. So we are in a real predicament.”
Businesses up and down the corridor said the congestion is keeping them from getting their products to market, and are asking the governor for about $30 million to get the project going.
That would still build only about five miles of interstate.
The funds would be both state and federal, but Dayton said adding a lane in both directions from St. Michael to St. Cloud could cost between $300 and $700 million.