City Council favors expanding Highway 36

Not only does Highway 36 split Roseville right down the middle, but it seems to be having the same effect on the Roseville City Council.  

Prompted by a request from the Roseville Citizen's League to pursue expansion of the highway, Council Member Dean Maschka presented a resolution for the council's consideration last week. It passed on a 4-1 vote.

Stating that congestion on the highway forces commuters to cut through the city on county roads, the resolution calls for a one-lane expansion on eastbound Highway 36 between interstates 35E and 694. The resolution, which will be sent to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, legislators and Gov. Tim Pawlenty, asks that funding be secured to complete the project by 2010.

"It's critical we keep pressing on this," Maschka said.

Council Member Tom Kough immediately jumped on board, saying that the council should urge for a meeting with U.S. Sens. Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman to advocate for federal funding.  "Let's work on that aspect of it too," Kough said.

"This is a dead issue," Council Member Greg Schroeder said as he voiced his opposition to the resolution.  

There were three reasons Schroeder gave in support of his position. First, he said that the $15 million price tag on the project would need to be funded up front in order to move the project from its current 2020 timeline.  

"That puts us between a rock and a hard spot," Schroeder said, adding that  Roseville doesn't have $15 million to front the project.  

Secondly, he said that while sitting in traffic, he realized that the  project could encourage more people to cut through Roseville. Schroeder explained that people unaware of Highway 36 could jump on 36 from 35E after the expansion and then find a county road that might lead them faster to where they are going.

"It would actually make the situation worse," he said.

Schroeder's third reason was centered around his belief that people need to get off the roads and find other modes of transportation.

"We need to really think about our transportation system," he said, explaining that Minnesota officials should look further at light-rail transit and buses. "We need to get out of our cars and off the roads entirely."

While Council Member Amy Ihlan said she agreed with Schroeder's position on mass transit, she voted to approve the resolution.

"I think this is a good first step towards getting attention to this issue," Ihlan said.

Former mayor John Kysylyczyn called the idea "stupid" since none of Roseville's legislative representatives control transportation dollars.

"This resolution is asking to establish an earmarking system," he said. "If Minnesota has an earmarking system, Roseville will be lucky to have dirt roads."

Maschka said that southwestern suburbs, like Bloomington, seem to get all the road construction projects and Roseville should start lobbying the Legislature. He asked that the resolution be passed on to Little Canada, Maplewood, North St. Paul and Oakdale.

"We haven't gotten any of the transportation dollars we should be getting," he said.

Content 2005 Lillie Suburban Newspapers