Toll lanes given green light by county board

April 7, 2012 by  

The idea of creating toll lanes north of central St. Paul on Interstate 35E is unanimously supported by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners.

Although the board does not have final authority over the proposed project, known as MnPass, they did pass a resolution to approve the lanes in principal that would run from Little Canada Road through to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Board members emphasized that they would expect money collected from the optional, high-occupancy lanes to be used for the maintenance and improvement along I-35E and not pinched for transit that has nothing to do with the highway. Members publicly stated that they support a grassroots initiative to continue construction of pathway systems for bicycles and pedestrians in conjunction with interstate improvements, projects which are currently on the table in the Minnesota Legislature.

Approximately $80 million has been allocated by The Minnesota Department of Transportation for an electronic toll system in dedicated lanes. Drivers would use these option lanes to bypass regular traffic if they were willing to pay a toll. Carpool vans and motorcycles could use the special toll lanes at no charge. Poster printing would ensure adequate signage along the route prior to installation to the toll to inform motorists of the upcoming changes and fees.

A pending bill in the Senate, supported by the Board in Ramsey County, would stipulate that funds from the MnPass lanes be used to maintain the lanes and electronics used to record paid toll fees. The House would like to see the revenue be shared with transit services.

Current tolls in the St. Paul area can be as high as $8 a day and those with dashboard mounted transponders pay an additional $1.50 a month.