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??

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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