Faster commutes, more parking and better transit soon will be a reality for the Twin Cities area, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced Thursday, June 12, during a visit with Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty to award the region $133.3 million in federal funds to help cut congestion along the vital Interstate 35W corridor.
“Our economic vitality and prosperity as a nation are increasingly becoming dependent on our willingness to embrace new transportation strategies,” Peters said. “Thanks to the tremendous political courage of state and local leaders, the Twin Cities’ future is looking promising and prosperous.”
The funding is being made available through the Urban Partnerships Program, designed to encourage communities to embrace new approaches to cutting congestion. Peters said the funding commitment was made possible because state legislators recently provided transportation officials with the authority they need to implement their traffic fighting plan.
That plan includes converting existing carpool lanes on I-35W to allow single-occupant drivers to also use them if they pay a fee, and extending the new lanes, known as High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes. The federal funds also will be used to purchase 26 new buses, speed wait times for buses at stoplights, and construct new park-and-ride facilities along the corridor. The plan also will finance new dynamic signs and real-time communications systems so drivers will be able to better avoid traffic or know when to choose transit.
“Over the past several years, we’ve tackled traffic congestion by adding capacity in key corridors and implementing new technologies, like MnPASS on I-394,” Pawlenty said. “We’re using every tool available to help get commuters to work and home faster and make sure our transportation system helps support our vibrant economy. The agreement signed today will provide significant additional resources to battle congestion along I-35W from Minneapolis through the southern Twin Cities suburbs so people and goods can get around our region faster.”
The Urban Partnership Program is part of DOT’s comprehensive initiative to address congestion throughout the nation’s transportation system. In addition to the Twin Cities region, DOT has entered into partnerships with Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle.