ROGERS, Minn. - As the state's Transportation Commissioner, Charles Zelle is ready to listen.
He's criss-crossing the state trying to learn more about highway woes, and he got a pretty good idea of traffic troubles from folks who live on Interstate 94 between Maple Grove and St. Cloud.
"It's gotten worse over the last five years, said one St. Cloud drive. "I'm a road warrior if you will, and I hate it!"
The President of King Solutions in Dayton, where more than 600 trailers come and go a week, has also been working on freeing up the freeway.
"We have got to keep them moving efficiently. We're working hard to keep the issues in front of the Department of Transportation," Mike Patterson said.
Zelle laid out the state's vision on road maintenance and roadway improvement before a packed meeting room at a Rogers hotel. But he was there, for the most part, to listen. "We have to make sure we get the solid facts out on the table so we can make some good choices," he explained.
Senator Warren Limmer, a Republican from Maple Grove, spoke for the collective group. "The people are a little frustrated, and they're frustrated because it seems like they're being neglected," he told the Commissioner.
The I-94 West Corridor Coalition continues to make its case to get to the top of the Mn/DOT project list, hoping for improvements along the crowded stretch of road. According to the coalition, accident rates are high on the roadway and commute times are triple what they should be. They also make the case that the population along the corridor is growing and businesses are expanding too.
"But there are many others that have needs. That's why we're looking at a statewide vision, not just a corridor vision," Zelle said.
Back at King Solutions, crews load trailers at odd hours, hoping that drivers can avoid the gridlock on 94. "It can't happen, it can't happen. We have schedules we have to meet, we have deadlines our customers want us to meet," Patterson concluded.
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