Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Environmental Assessment and how can I obtain the document?
The Environmental Assessment (EA) is a document that describes the purpose and need for the project and describes the anticipated social, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed project. The document is intended to meet the requirements of both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The document can be viewed here.
How do I request an ASL or foreign language interpreter or other ADA accommodations?
Spanish, Somali and Hmong interpreters will be present at the two public open houses. To request an ASL or other foreign language interpreter, call 651-366-4720. To request other reasonable accommodations, call 651-366-4718; the Minnesota Relay Service toll-free at 1-800-627-3529 (TTY, Voice or ASCII) or 711, or email your request to ADArequest.firstname.lastname@example.org.
To request the EA document in an alternative format: Call 651-366-4720 or email your request to email@example.com.
What is Municipal Consent?
MnDOT is required to obtain formal approval from the City Council for any state highway project that alters access, increases or reduces the number of through lanes, or requires permanent acquisition of right-of-way within that city. The City Council must schedule and hold a public hearing within 60 days after the request for Municipal Consent from MnDOT. The City Council must pass a resolution approving or disapproving the proposed action within 90 days of the public hearing. If the city does not pass a resolution, the project is deemed approved. There is an appeal process if the city disapproves the project.
When did the City of Minneapolis approve the project?
The City of Minneapolis held the Municipal Consent public hearing on May 3, 2016. The City Council passed a resolution granting Municipal Consent to the project on May 13, 2016.
When did the Hennepin County Board approved the project?
The Hennepin County Public Works, Environment and Energy Committee reviewed the project on May 3, 2016. The County Board approved the project layout on May 10, 2016.
What is the estimated cost of the I-35W Transit/Access Project?
The estimated cost of the I-35W Improvements Project is $345 million. This estimated cost includes engineering, construction and right of way acquisition. Below is an approximate breakdown of the included costs.
- I-35W Transit/Access project - $150 million
- Chapter 152 Bridges project - $130 million
- I-35W Rehabilitation project - $65 million
Why are transportation improvements being planned for the I-35W/Lake Street area?
Improvements to I-35W have been studied over at least the last two decades. The highway and the bridges are very old – built in the 1960s – and some of the bridges along I-35W are included in legislation that requires that they be replaced by 2018. The region is also planning for the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service along the I-35W Orange Line as described in the 2030 Transportation Policy Plan and as stipulated by the City of Minneapolis with the Municipal Consent for the Crosstown Commons (I-35W and Highway 62) improvements.
The Twin Cities metro region received Urban Partnership Agreement (UPA) federal funding which funded various elements of BRT on I-35W including managed lanes, a new online transit station at 46th St and some park-and-ride lots, in addition to improved transit facilities in Downtown Minneapolis including dual transit lanes, enhanced bus shelters and real-time transit information signage. The managed lanes (for transit, carpools and congestion pricing) are the only added lane capacity on I-35W. This means a reliance on BRT to handle future growth in transportation demand along this corridor.
What are the overall goals of the I-35W Transit/Access Project?
The current phase of the I-35W Transit/Access Project will develop a 40% Concept Plan that includes consideration of the following project components:
- A transit station at or near Lake Street
- A high quality connection to the Midtown Greenway
- A southbound exit ramp to Lake Street
- A northbound exit ramp to 28th Street
- Improvements along Lake Street between Blaisdell Avenue and 5th Avenue
The goals of the I-35W Transit/Access Plan are:
- Effective integration of transit, freeway mobility and multimodal local access
- Providing community benefit through local multimodal transportation improvements
- Meeting the objectives for the BRT Orange Line and the MnPASS managed lanes
- Addressing freeway system issues related to operations and safety
- Creating opportunities for a community focal point as well as improved transit service, bicycle and pedestrian connections, and transportation access for community residents and businesses
How do these improvements relate to the City’s Access Minneapolis transportation plan?
Access Minneapolis: Citywide Ten-Year Transportation Action Plan supports implementation of regional transitways. Also, this Plan defines Lake Street as a key component of the designated Primary Transit Network (PTN). The PTN emphasizes high quality transit passenger facilities and amenities, pedestrian environment, bicycle access, safety and security.
What bridges have to be replaced by 2018?
Laws 2008, Chapter 152, Section 165.14, directs the Commissioner of Transportation to establish a Trunk Highway Bridge Improvement Program with an emphasis on structurally deficient and fracture critical bridges. Current bridges that meet the program criteria are to be accelerated for replacement or repair. A tier system is included in the legislation to group bridges with Tier 1 being the highest priority.
There are two bridges along I-35W that must be replaced by 2018 under the Chapter 152 legislation. These are the “braid” bridge near 24th Street and the “flyover” bridge that connects northbound I-35W to westbound I-94. Replacement of the braid bridge provides an opportunity through a design change to land the bridge on the right side of southbound I-35W rather than the left side, thus accommodating a future continuous managed lane from downtown to the new Lake Street Transit Station and beyond. Replacement of the flyover bridge offers an opportunity through a design change to ease congestion in the I-94 commons area that results from having a lot of traffic trying to merge in one location.
How do these improvements relate to regional transportation objectives?
The Metro Transit Regional goal is to double transit ridership by 2030 and decrease reliance on the automobile, particularly during the peak periods. I-35W is one the regional transitways (Orange Line) identified for transit improvements. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a big part of the strategy to achieve this goal.
What are the objectives for Lake Street?
The primary objective for the “missing link” of Lake Street between Blaisdell Avenue and 5th Avenue is to develop a design that:
- Addresses the existing peak period congestion and queue lengths (Blaisdell to 5th).
- Minimizes traffic diversion into neighborhoods.
- Provides a pedestrian, bicyclist and transit friendly environment.
- Fits and works with the five main project components that are part of the 30% Concept Plan.
What are the objectives for this project that affect the economic revitalization of Lake Street?
Planning for the eventual reconstruction of the Lake Street and I-35W area should support the economic revitalization of Lake Street. The following assumptions and components are important to achieving that broad objective:
- Complete Lake Street roadway and streetscape improvements.
- Plan for access between I-35W and Lake Street.
- Connect Midtown Greenway to Lake Street and the transit station.
- Design that supports the reopening and reconnecting Nicollet Avenue.
- Design that supports the adopted Midtown Minneapolis Land Use and Development Plan.
- Attractive space that is pedestrian and bicyclist friendly.
What are the main design challenges for this project?
- Fitting all project components into limited space.
- “Humanizing” the design (scale, pedestrian-bicyclist friendly, exciting, safe space).
- Making clear, easy to navigate three-dimensional connections between the transit station and Lake Street, the Midtown Greenway, and north/south transit routes (Nicollet and 4th/5th Avenues).
- Determining how to stage (phase) construction to maintain traffic and transit service while minimizing local impacts.
- Addressing neighborhood impacts and mitigation measures.
What is the Timeline for Construction?
Current plans call for construction to start in 2017.
See Winter 2016 Project Update for more details.