The first episode of a four-part Environmental Technical Assistance Program or ETAP podcast series focuses on building an equitable transportation system.
[Above photo by ReConnect Rondo]
The ETAP podcast – part of a technical service program for state departments of transportation provided by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials – explores a wide array of environmental topics that affect transportation and infrastructure programs.
During this episode, Keith Baker (above) – executive director of nonprofit community group ReConnect Rondo – talks about the vision driving his organization and the innovative approach it is taking to transform the neighborhood, businesses, and cultural ties on either side of Interstate 94 in St. Paul, which divided the historic Rondo neighborhood during the post-World War II highway building boom.
Those efforts have included a proposal to build a deck over part of the interstate and restore some of the amenities razed during road construction – and it received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation in March to do so.
The money will also help coordinate with the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s “ReThinking I-94” project, which seeks to make needed repairs to the highway’s aging infrastructure, while creating methods to reduce further harms caused by the main east-west artery through the Twin Cities.
The goal of ReConnect Rondo is to create a “land bridge” is to reconnect the community split in two by the freeway’s construction in the 1950s and 1960s, in the process destroying around 700 homes and 300 businesses, according to Baker.
The bridge would serve as a cap over the part of the road, between Chatsworth Street and Grotto Street, encompassing what used to be the entire Rondo neighborhood. Baker explains that the proposed “land bridge” could add approximately 500 new housing units, 1,000 residents, and 1,500 jobs, along with $4 million in annual city revenue.
To listen to the entire podcast episode, click here.