A $2 million federal Reconnecting Communities Grant is providing a key boost to the nonprofit ReConnect Rondo’s plans for a land bridge over I-94. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $1 billion to aid hundreds of neighborhoods across the country that were demolished to construct the federal highway system. The Rondo neighborhood lost more than 700 homes and 300 businesses when it was cleaved in two by I-94 in the 1950s and ’60s.

Rondo land bridge
ReConnect Rondo's earlier plans for a five-block land bridge over I-94 between Chatsworth and Grotto streets.

$2.5 million earmarked for analyses, modeling

The grant, along with another $500,000 previously committed by the city of Saint Paul and the state Legislature, will be used for environmental and traffic analyses and modeling. The land bridge could cap I-94 for several blocks between Chatsworth and Grotto streets. The cost of a five-block land bridge was estimated at around $459 million back in 2021.

The recent funding will also aid in the coordination of plans between the land bridge and MnDOT’s ReThinking I-94 initiative. That is especially true for plans involving environmental impact and traffic.

Decision is well received

“The timing was fortuitous,” said ReConnect Rondo executive director Keith Baker. “It is also incredibly validating to see the federal government take responsibility for the lasting harm rendered on communities all these years later.” 

“I’m grateful for Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith and Congresswoman McCollum’s work to secure funding for an incredible project,” said Mayor Melvin Carter. “Rebuilding the Rondo community benefits all of us, and a land bridge brings exciting possibilities to the table.” 

In addition to the land bridge, ReConnect Rondo aims to create an African-American cultural enterprise district to catalyze economic growth throughout Rondo and adjacent neighborhoods.

— Jane McClure


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