Local Advocacy Pushes Minnesota DOT to Reassess Bridge Design
The past six months has seen significant progress in the campaign to include bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the Interstate 90 Dresbach Bridge. This bridge connects LaCrescent, MN and LaCrosse, WI over the Mississippi River. Until January, the 100-year design plans to replace this bridge did not include bike-ped accommodations, even though both states have Complete Streets policies.
Local advocacy group Active Living La Crescent worked in partnership with the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota on this campaign with support from an Advocacy Advance Rapid Response Grant. With only six weeks to convince the MnDOT to include bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on the Interstate Bridge, Active Living La Crescent used its grant funds to travel through the region to meet face-to-face with key decision makers and obtain legal consultation that provided contacts to critical individuals, regulatory review and important letters at crucial junctures in the process.
MnDOT’s reassessment of the bridge design was required by the Federal Highway Administration after initial advocacy efforts led by national, state and local bicycle advocacy groups and support from elected officials and staff and leadership of state and federal agencies. “Seldom is a reassessment and a design change achieved so late in the design process,” says Sue Howe, Project Manager at Active Living La Crescent. “It is therefore up to the local elected officials and staff, representing our communities, to insist on sufficient process to ensure that our vision is incorporated into the plans of State and Federal Agencies.”
Local advocates still have work to do to ensure these plans are carried out, but the results of their hard work will serve six generations in creating “a bridge, not a barrier.”
Rapid Response grants have funded the successful campaigns of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin to restore $2 million in state Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities Program and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to bring bike sharing to Portland.