Minnesota Department of Transportation

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June 30, 2021

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MnDOT seeks community feedback on Purpose and Need Statement from Central, University avenues study

Study findings will help guide future improvements

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Transportation is starting a 30- day period of public review of the documents that will help develop a future vision for University Avenue/Highway 47 and Central Avenue/Highway 65 from Northeast Minneapolis to the Northtown Mall. The study area passes through the cities of Blaine, Coon Rapids, Columbia Heights, Fridley, Hilltop and Minneapolis.

In the past year more than 5,000 community members shared important feedback on the future of the project area by participating in virtual open houses, online surveys and individual conversations. MnDOT has identified a set of primary and secondary needs based on public feedback and technical analysis of the study area. Primary needs include increased safety for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists, as well as improved pavement conditions. Secondary needs include better accessibility and ease of travel for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and drivers.

“We hope to hear from the public on the needs that were identified in this preliminary work before we move forward, so we can make sure the most important things are included,” said Tony Wotzka, MnDOT project manager. “We were pleased to hear from many residents, motorists, businesses and other partners in the study area, particularly because this engagement work needed to be conducted virtually. With the thoughtful input of so many individuals, we believe we’ve identified the key transportation problems and the general outcome of future improvements.”

The Purpose and Need Statement and the Evaluation Criteria identify transportation problems, explain the proposed outcome of future improvements, and provide a consistent way to determine which potential projects best meet the needs of the two roadways. The two draft documents, as well as a feedback form, are now available at mndot.gov/metro/projects/hwy47andhwy65study. The public can review the documents and provide feedback through Thursday, July 29.

Known as a Planning and Environmental Linkage study, this effort asks for community input before construction projects and improvements have been designed. The study’s next phase will continue through summer 2023 and result in the development and evaluation of potential alternatives. The study is an important step in helping MnDOT and the study’s partner counties and cities advance future improvements.