Civic beat // City approves elements of 35W Access Project

The long-debated 35W Transit Access Project moved forward on Sept. 25, as the City Council voted for a $114 million plan to redesign the freeway’s intersection with Lake Street. 

The council has pared down what was a $500 million project eight years ago. 

The key elements of the new project include: 

A new transit station that will connect pedestrians and Greenway bicyclists with buses heading to downtown. 

A freeway expansion between 28th and 31st streets that includes four new bridges.

A new exit that would connect southbound 35W travelers to Lake Street. 

Left out of the project is an entrance onto 35W northbound from Lake Street. City Council members voted to leave that $37 million element off of the list due to its price tag and required property acquisition. It could be added later.  

The freeway expansion would cost $46 million and the transit station would cost $43  million. The project also includes a northbound exit from northbound 35W onto 28th Street. 

Robert Lilligren (Ward 6) cast the lone no vote against the project’s elements. He said the 28th Street exit would be a waste of money and direct traffic away from Lake Street businesses. He tried in committee to remove that element, but his motion to amend the resolution failed. 

Funding is expected to come from the city, Hennepin County, the state of Minnesota, Metro Transit and the federal government. Funding formulas have not been approved. 

St. Paul Saints ballpark gets funds over Minneapolis projects

Gov. Mark Dayton had 90 requests for $288 million in capital projects throughout Minnesota. In whittling that number down to the $47.5 million approved by the Legislature, he left out the few Minneapolis requests while giving $25 million for a new St. Paul Saints ballpark. 

Among the projects that were declined by Dayton: A $25 million request to redesign Nicollet Mall and a $750,000 request to make improvements to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. 

Dayton did, however, include $2 million for pre-engineering for the Southwest Light Rail Transit line that connects Eden Prairie to downtown Minneapolis. The Metropolitan Council originally asked for $25 million, but scaled the request back to $14 million after the Legislature cut it from the 2012 bonding bill. 

Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman praised Dayton for the contribution and said the project is still on schedule for a 2018 opening. 

“This is a really encouraging sign from the governor,” Dorfman said.