Bill Newman

I moved to the Riverwood Neighborhood in Brooklyn Center in 1998. I bought an odd little 1,100 square foot house on a large waterfront lot. With 140 feet of frontage on the Mississippi River and 1.5 acres it seemed like a little piece of heaven just 5 miles from downtown Minneapolis. Years later, I have two Brooklyn Center based businesses and a much better house! I am blessed to live so close to downtown Minneapolis and still have the opportunity to see Bald Eagles in my backyard every day. I became a part of the highway 252 safety task force because I was concerned how this project might affect the safety and the quality of life for citizens in the Riverwood neighborhood. I have 36 years of experience as an Environmental Scientist, and I have witnessed the DOT charge ahead on ill-conceived road projects despite legitimate environmental concerns. One example was the Highway 55 project that would have destroyed the Coldwater Spring near Fort Snelling.

The Coldwater Spring is sacred to the Dakota people and is of great historic importance as the original water supply for Fort Snelling. My company collected data that helped prevent MnDOTs highway 55 construction from cutting off nearly all the water flowing to the spring. After a long battle we forced the MnDOT to modify their design to reduce the damage to the spring. The spring still lives but even with the modified design it has lost half of its flow. When I first reviewed the proposed interchange at 66th I was very concerned that it was only 110 feet from the Mississippi River and the obvious potential negative impacts to the river. I have experienced firsthand how MnDOT road design plans can ignore serious environmental impacts, and how hard it is for scientists and concerned citizens to prevent them from steamrolling ahead with their plans no matter how poorly conceived.

What I was not prepared for was their willingness to ignore basic safety rules in service of the goal of moving more cars from the northern suburbs through our communities. After reviewing the previous MnDOT design and comparing it to the design safety rules in MnDOTs own Road Design Manual I became alarmed at the multiple violations of good design practice. The citizens of North Minneapolis, Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park deserve a safe road along the 94/252 corridor that serves their communities.

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