Yasmin Hirsi speaking to forum attendees at Mixed Blood Theater

We hosted a community forum at Mixed Blood yesterday to share Reimagining I-94 report findings and project demands as well as offer the opportunity for community testimony.

Though they were invited, no representatives from MnDOT attended the forum.

Highlights from Community Testimony

  • “I’m hoping that moving forward, we’re having a lot more difficult conversations about how these decisions are being made from a class position. They’re being made largely by people who are not gonna be impacted.”
  • “We still have the question of what happens to the trench underneath [I-94]. This is several miles, 7 miles, to be exact, of readily available right of way that we don’t have to tunnel, that we can use for whatever we want. So instead of filling it in, why don’t we do something productive with it? Maybe in the short-term, that could be a sunken busway, like what we saw in Seattle until Links light rail was built. But in the long-term, we should be pursuing something ambitious, something like heavy regional rail, not just like a shuttle between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but the spine of a larger regional network.”
  • “I am allegedly who I-94 was built for, and yet I want grade-separated transportation options, too. I haven’t been able to afford a car.”
  • “I live three blocks south of I-94, and I live four houses to the east of I-94 in St. Paul. So I hear the highway in my yard every day. Many days, I smell auto exhaust in my yard. And I worry about what living there for over 30 years has done to my health and my family’s health. I’m a strong supporter of the boulevard option.”
  • “We are joining in a national wave of highway removals in a way that is going to hopefully gain critical mass. And through this project, we’re not only making life better for us here in the cities, but also creating a movement that makes life better for people all across this nation in a way that improves our cities for the future for a long time.”
  • “I’ve lived in the St. Paul Mounds Park area. I look at a map now and realize specifically Mounds Park, where I live, due to the bluff and due to I-94, there’s only three roads out of my neighborhood. Highways were supposed to be sold as freedom. And 94 blocks off an entire access out of my neighborhood, leaving three bridges and the other side being up along off. That’s not freedom.”
  • “When you think about the potential and you think about a quarter-mile, half-mile, a mile off of this corridor and the redevelopment that might occur as we kind of densify the region, I think it’s a much, much larger impact that we could see with a project like this, and with the kind of a re-centralization of the region and sort of an undoing of that 60 years of a sprawling region. So I just love to see us think about the land use implications of all this, as well as the transportation impacts.”
  • “The people running this project at MnDOT, the Rethinking I-94 project group—they live in Stillwater. They live in East Bethel. They live in Medina. They do not live here. They do not have city sensibilities. They do not travel the way we do. They do not bicycle for transportation. We really need you to come together across the river. This is going to be Minneapolis in St. Paul together. We have to talk to our City Council members. I have been writing to mine. They are not responding about this. It’s horrifying to me.”
  • “[MnDOT] is not going to stop. They are going to take the most suburban, least difficult path. And that’s not going to work for any of us.”
  • “In this community, there’s not even land to have affordable home ownership opportunities. We have a completely lopsided ownership structure and the West Bank. So if this would give us our land back and give ownership opportunities to the people here, it would be enormous.”
  • “You give the examples from San Francisco about the Octavia Boulevard and the Embarcadero was a really famous one. And they were both built after there was an earthquake. Those elevated roads fell and they were replaced with boulevards. Someone might say, well, they had an earthquake and they had to do something. I would say, for all of us going into these next 50 and 60 years, that climate change is the earthquake. We need to be serious about what is the future? What will the world be like? What will our world right here be like in the next 30, 40, 50 years?”
  • “I’ve lived here through a time when there was another example of highway development that did get altered before it got built. And that’s Hiawatha Avenue running south out of downtown. They wanted like a four-lane interstate highway through there. People fought it for years, and they kept it from that.”
Protest sign hung at the forum saying "MnDOT CAN'T IGNORE THE HARMS OF I-94, MEET OUR DEMANDS!"

We are holding a rally at the MnDOT Commissioner’s Office on June 13 at 4:30 PM. We encourage all supporters to attend both the forum and the rally to learn more about the demands and hold MnDOT accountable to community demands.