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UPA policy authorization sought

Published (4/25/2008)
By Mike Cook
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The funding is set and the plans are drawn. Policy legislation is now needed — and soon.

Sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), HF3725 would provide authority and make conforming changes related to the Urban Partnership Agreement, a federal program providing money to help reduce traffic congestion in parts of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Approved April 18 by the House Finance Committee, the bill awaits action by the House Ways and Means Committee. A companion, SF3058, sponsored by Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), awaits action by the full Senate.

Hornstein said the bill must be signed into law by May 12, or the state risks losing some of the $133.3 million in federal money for the project, which is expected to help with congestion along Interstate 35W and Cedar Avenue between downtown Minneapolis and the southern suburbs. A quintet of regions was selected to receive federal funding as part of the program. Hornstein said New York failed to meet its deadline and lost “several hundred million dollars.”

Bernie Arseneau, director of the Transportation Department’s Office of Traffic, Safety and Operations, said the $49 million state match has been identified. “It’s in place through a couple of different means already through this session.”

According to MnDOT, the plan includes:

• the use of priced dynamic shoulder lanes, similar to the Interstate 394 MnPASS, on I-35W from 46th Street to downtown Minneapolis;

• the addition of a high-occupancy toll lane from 66th Street to 46th Street;

• conversion of the high-occupancy vehicle lane to a high-occupancy toll lane on I-35W from 66th Street to Burnsville Parkway;

• Cedar Avenue Bus Rapid Transit between downtown Minneapolis and Lakeville built ahead of the current schedule; and

• additional park-and-ride lots and bus service along the I-35W corridor.

Arseneau said the shoulder lanes would provide maximum roadway usage during congestion periods. He said lane control signals would direct traffic. “This will be really the first corridor nationally and, frankly, internationally that includes the congestion pricing and these lane control signals.”

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