Our Streets Minneapolis
2021 – $10,000 Reimagining I-94

Our Streets Minneapolis is a transportation advocacy organization that organizes for a community where biking, walking, and rolling are easy and comfortable for everyone. Their work is volunteer driven and is grounded in community organizing. 

As part of their mission to transform transportation in Minneapolis and the Twin Cities region, they have been leading a campaign to reimagine Interstate 94 as part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Rethinking I-94 project. The Rethinking I-94 project will determine the future of I-94 approximately between the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. 

I-94, like many urban freeways in America, was intentionally routed through low income and communities of color. The freeway destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses when it was constructed in the mid 20th century. In Minneapolis, one out of every twenty residents lost their home to freeway construction. 80% of Black Minneapolis residents lived in the communities where freeways, including I-94, were built. 

I-94’s harm has been ongoing ever since it was constructed. The freeway’s traffic generates hazardous air pollution that contributes to health disparities including one of the region’s highest rates of asthma hospitalization. The sunken freeway trench divides neighborhoods and limits transportation options for households without access to a car. The freeway also occupies a large swath of land that could be returned to neighboring communities to address local needs including affordable housing, commercial space for local businesses and greenspace. This isn’t to mention the freeway’s climate impact. Transportation is the largest greenhouse gas emissions sector in Minnesota and little progress has been made in recent years as fuel efficiency improvements have been mostly negated by increases in vehicle miles traveled.

The Rethinking I-94 project represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to redress these harms and reimagine the freeway corridor. Our Streets Minneapolis’ advocacy is focused on building a community vision to remove this segment of I-94 and replace it with a multi-modal transportation corridor that increases walking, biking and transit access, improves health outcomes and puts the needs of adjacent communities first. 

Many people aren’t fully aware of how I-94 impacts their daily lives. It can also be difficult to imagine what the corridor could look like without a freeway. However cities across the world have already removed and replaced freeway segments and many more have projects in the works. Our Streets Minneapolis is going directly to the people who are most impacted by the freeway by door knocking throughout the project corridor to highlight these examples and help expand community imagination for what is possible. These conversations are helping to raise awareness about the project and build public pressure on MnDOT and other decision makers to ensure that they deliver a project that improves the lives of people who experience the freeway’s harms daily. 

To learn more about this project, go to ourstreetsmpls.org/rethinkingi94