The Metropolitan Council has awarded six contracts totaling $161,000 to community-based organizations to engage people in MnDOT’s Rethinking I-94 Study.
The goal of the contracts is to engage communities along the freeway corridor so that historically underrepresented community members can help shape decisions on the future design, use and overall look of I-94. The information and perspectives gained through engagement will help steer Rethinking I-94 by shedding light on any themes that may not have been brought out yet or by amplifying any current themes for a closer look.
Contracts have been awarded to the following organizations:
The organizations will execute their respective engagement projects throughout the next year. They will work closely with MnDOT, the Council, and each other to learn and discuss engagement practices that work best.
Marvin Anderson, Executive Director of Rondo Avenue, Inc., said the contracts are an opportunity for partnership between community and government to talk openly about how planning is done. Rondo is a community that was divided and displaced when I-94 was constructed. Anderson has been working to get a plaza built within the neighborhood to help connect the past with the present.
“This partnership with MnDOT and the Met Council is a regional platform to reimagine I-94,” he said. “The Rondo Plaza can now be built and I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Another contract holder is Hope Community, Inc., based on Franklin Avenue in the Phillips Neighborhood of Minneapolis. Will Delaney, Associate Director, said, “By engaging on Rethinking I-94, we hope to reconnect Phillips to other parts of Minneapolis.” Delaney said that he hopes to have conversations about how people relate to I-94, and ask about the past, present and future impacts of the freeway.
Community members were not involved in the original planning and construction of I-94 in the 1950s and early 1960s, a project that led to the displacement of hundreds of families from their homes. This created massive distrust and an overall feeling of “no confidence” in how MnDOT and other government agencies operate, explained Brian Isaacson, Project Manager of Rethinking I-94.
“In partnership with the Council, MnDOT is executing its engagement work on this project at a very innovative level,” said Nick Thompson, director of the Council’s Metropolitan Transportation Services division. “What we learn will help us examine more strategically what it means to rebuild a major urban corridor.
“The work that the contractors will be doing for the next year will not only help in our long-range planning for infrastructure, but also help us build stronger relationships with the community,” he said.
More information on Rethinking I-94.