by Samara Postuma
The groundbreaking on the much-anticipated Interstate 94 expansion took place Monday, June 30, in St. Michael.
The project will add a lane to the freeway between Highway 101 in Rogers and Highway 241 in St. Michael.
Area government officials as well as state officials were in attendance and spoke of just how important this project is to not only area businesses and infrastructure but to taxpayers, too.
St. Michael City Administrator Steve Bot headed up the event and spoke about this project being an example of where business and government come together.
“What a great day for Minnesota,” Minnesota Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle said to the large crowd gathered at the former movie theater at the intersection of Highway 241 and I-94. Zelle said he was speaking on behalf of Gov. Mark Dayton, who was unable to attend due to traveling throughout the metro to see area flooding.
“This project wasn’t on the five-year plan, it wasn’t even on the 20-year plan,” Zelle said, noting that it was important to add this project on because it will have an immediate impact not only locally but statewide.
“There will be a huge return on investment here, not just for businesses but taxpayers,” he added.
Rep. Michele Bachmann also attended the groundbreaking and spoke about her desire that this project not be complete after its first phase.
“We are not going to end after the first phase, we want this to run all the way to St. Cloud. That’s what prosperity does,” Bachmann said.
Bachmann also spoke of the importance of these roads on the future and making decisions to honor and promote prosperity and competitiveness.
While Monday was the official groundbreaking and “green light” for the project, construction is expected to begin in August. The project’s first phase will be the expansion from Highway 101 to Highway 241, with expected completion in fall 2015.