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Interstate 94 expansion proposal hits snag

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation is no longer including an expansion to Interstate 94 in central Minnesota in its 20-year transportation plan.

The St. Cloud Times reports that community and government leaders on both sides of the aisle believe that a wider I-94 is critical for reducing traffic congestion, easing the flow of goods and services and improving the lives of thousands of commuters who travel between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities.

According to the report MnDOT officials say the reason the expansion has been dropped from the plan is because there is not enough funding to maintain all of the state's highways and bridges, let alone build more.

MnDOT has changed their focus from expansion to preservation. The I-94 project would widen the interstate to six lanes between St. Cloud and Rogers, MnDOT estimates that would cost between $300 and $400 million.

A couple of factors led to dropping the I-94 project from the MnSHIP 20 year plan. Officials say the factors include a decline in gas tax revenue, and a change in policy which only lets MnDOT list projects with a known funding source.

MnDOT Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle estimates that it would cost 50 billion dollars to maintain and build new infrastructure in the next two decades.

MnDOT says additional funding is necessary to complete some of the expansion plans.

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