Rondo land bridge proposed for St. Paul gets trio of state, regional and possibly federal support – Twin Cities


The vision of an Interstate 94 “land bridge” in the old Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul took a serious turn in reality this week with a potential trifecta of new state, regional and perhaps federal dollars. .

On Thursday, the organizers of ReConnect Rondo confirmed that they had secured $ 6.2 million in credit from the state for a master plan. The next two years will be busy for planners.

At the age of 81, Marvin Anderson spent most of his life campaigning for the revival of a historically black St. Paul neighborhood uprooted by the construction of I-94 in the 1950s and 1960s. .

Anderson, a longtime resident who founded the annual Rondo Days festival with his childhood friend, Floyd Smaller, in 1982, more recently advocated the construction of a freeway cover for several blocks of the freeway. . Anderson’s long-term goal is to make room for up to 1,000 new residents and up to 576 new housing units, 1,900 new jobs, and acres of green, educational, commercial and retail outlet where the Rondo community once thrived, effectively eliminating a neighborhood cut in two by the highway.

Floyd Smaller, left, and Marvin Anderson stand on a walkway over Interstate 94 in St. Paul on June 8, 2016. The two work for community participation in the design of I-94 bridges in the old Rondo district in St. Paul. (Pioneer press: Scott Takushi)

“The pre-planning money should take us through all the steps that will be necessary to determine the feasibility, the placement, the logistics,” Anderson said Thursday. “It also has a significant amount of money earmarked for community engagement, which we have been planning to do for some time. “

The funds will allow ReConnect Rondo to be able to assemble the staff and carry out the studies necessary to prove the feasibility of the project, he added.

“I hope it will be a two year window. We want this to be done because the next state liaison cycle is 2023. ”

A recent study by the Urban Land Institute looked at three potential options for a land bridge. The first provided for the extension of the Victoria Street Bridge to the east and west along the highway. The following scenario extended the Victoria Street bridge east to Grotto Street. A third choice would build the highway cover between Chatsworth and Grotto streets.

“These three choices will now be critically examined with pre-planning dollars,” Anderson said.


State dollars were negotiated during state budget negotiations this week the old fashioned way, said organizers of ReConnect Rondo – a horse trade between lawmakers interested in funding a lumber factory Engineering Center in Cohasset, Minn., which is near Grand Rapids on the Railroad.

An additional $ 5.2 million for the Rondo land bridge could come from the federal Invest in America Act, a $ 715 billion transportation and water bill approved by House lawmakers on Thursday by an overwhelming majority according to the government officials. gone.

This money, guaranteed in law by US Representative Betty McCollum, a Democrat representing St. Paul, would also be used in the planning phase for environmental review, project management, market research and related studies. The bill has yet to be passed by the US Senate.

Additional funds for St. Paul in the Invest in America Act include $ 6.9 million for the Rice Street Revitalization Project, involving the final design and construction of improvements from Pennsylvania Avenue to Wheelock Parkway, and 7.5 million dollars for the reconstruction of the Kellogg Boulevard / Third Street Bridge in downtown St. Paul from Broadway Street to Mounds Boulevard. The latter is the future route of the Gold Line Bus Rapid Transit corridor.


Also this week, the Metropolitan Council approved $ 150,000 to study ways to advance real estate development on the Rondo land bridge without displacing local residents, a growing concern in some corners of the neighborhood.

In what she called a “continuing call for transparency,” TruArt Speaks founder Tish Jones and other black advocates held a speech this week ring the alarm bells about the possibility that the highway’s cover could turn on it and gentrify an area struggling to keep rents affordable.

“The setback is to be expected and should be welcomed,” said Anderson, who has pledged additional community engagement on the project now that more funds are available. “We don’t pretend to know how everyone feels at Rondo, what they know, what their own level of comfort is with the land bridge. We may not be able to answer all of their questions to their satisfaction, but we can give them what we have.

The Met Council’s funding, which will take the form of a Liveable Communities Demonstration Account Pre-Development Grant, will explore the creation of a Rondo Restorative Development Overlay District to help raise additional funds for anti-risk strategies. -displacement such as affordable housing. Supporters predict that a possible African-American cultural business district will help do the same.

ReConnect Rondo hosted morning and evening chat sessions on July 7th. More information is online at

This week marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Interstate Highway Trust by President Dwight Eisenhower, which paved the way for 41,000 miles of interstate highway construction after World War II. Although considered a great national advance, the new highway system has often been traced over or through ethnic neighborhoods, bypassing or eliminating them.

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