Just Call it “The Little Dig”
Here’s a thought on how to tackle the Twin Cities’ largest remaining traffic bottleneck, now that the Crosstown – 35W project is done.
That would be the Interstate 394 – 94 connection just southwest of downtown Minneapolis, where the eastbound 394 narrows to one lane, and curves around Parade Stadium before heading into the Lowry Tunnel.
The thought occurred to me — appropriately enough — while stuck in the same one lane heading east on 394 the other morning.
The Big Dig
More than two decades ago, Boston faced a similar bottleneck/eyesore: the elevated freeway that separated downtown from the North End.
Thanks to its heavyweight Congressional delegation, which at the time included House Speaker Tip O’Neill, Boston succeeded in attracting almost $30 billion in federal money to tear down the elevated freeway and replace it with a tunnel.
The reclaimed street level space is now a mix of public and private space, and has won raves from the public, business, and government officials alike.
The Big Dig 2.0?
A similar project in Minneapolis would kill the same two birds with one stone: remedy a growing traffic nightmare, while removing an eyesore that separates Uptown and Downtown with the traffic equivalent of the Berlin Wall.
The reclaimed space could be used for a plaza, a park, or new contruction — or all three.
Such a large, capital project would be a shot in the arm for the still-soft local and state economy, and would likely only be a fraction of the $30 billion Boston ultimately spent.
Call it $5 billion, tops.
How about it, Congressman (and former U of MN law school classmate) Keith Ellison?
Care to get the (demolition) ball rolling??