Earlier this month, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that the temporary shoulder lanes on Interstate I-94 between downtown Minneapolis and Hwy. 280 won't revert to bus-only shoulder lanes when the new Interstate 35W bridge opens.
We need you to contact MnDOT and the Metropolitan Council to tell them that the temporary shoulder lane on I-94 should return to its previous use as highway shoulder lanes reserved for bus access during congested periods, vehicle breakdowns and crashes, and short-term snow storage.Safety and transit access should be the highest priorities for the shoulder lanes in this congested corridor.
Any plan to turn the temporary shoulder lanes into permanent lanes for mixed traffic clearly runs counter to both statutory and agency goals, which call for both safe transportation and increased transit use in urban areas. I-94 without shoulder lanes is simply not as safe as it was previously; federal design guidelines call for 12-foot lane widths, a 10-foot paved shoulder on the right, and a 4-foot paved shoulder on the left.
Further, our region has a national reputation for its bus-only shoulder lanes, which by encouraging transit ridership, are a proven congestion management strategy. When I-94 is very congested and the buses are stuck in mixed traffic, entire bus trips may be missed because drivers are unable to make a second run.
TLC staff members were told that MnDOT would extensively study the costs and benefits of returning the shoulders to their previous use, and that there would be an opportunity for public input regarding this decision. As of publication, MnDOT has not communicated the dates for the study to begin or when public input will be solicited.
Lea Schuster, the Executive Director of Transit for Livable Communities, wrote a letter to Tom Sorel, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation asking MnDOT to state clearly and publicly that the I-94 shoulder lanes will remain temporary until such a study is completed. Transit for Livable Communities plans to meet with MnDOT to discuss this issue in the near future, to express TLC's strong concerns about the possible decision and the decision-making process.
To reach Tom Sorel, the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Transportation:
Tom Sorel, Commissioner
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation
395 John Ireland Boulevard
St. Paul, MN 55155
To reach Peter Bell, the Chair of the Metropolitan Council:
Peter Bell, Chair
390 Robert Street North
St. Paul, MN 55101