Raising of I-35E speed limit fails… again

Nothing gets suburban legislators at the Minnesota Capitol cranked up more than having to slow down when driving on Interstate 35E in Saint Paul.

The freeway speed limit is restricted to 45 mph because of a deal state officials made with residents in 1984 in exchange for upgrading Pleasant Avenue from a parkway to a highway.

For years since, lawmakers have tried to undo the speed limit without success. But every session, the attempt reappears.

Today was that day, with legislators trying a new tack: Banning truck traffic in downtown Saint Paul.

Currently, trucks are banned from the section of I-35E, so perennial speed limit critic Sen. Dan Hall, R-Burnsville proposed the following amendment today to a larger transportation funding package

“Sec. 26. REDUCTION OF COMMERCIAL TRAFFIC.
The commissioner of transportation, in consultation with the city of St. Paul, shall design and implement restrictions on the operation of commercial vehicles, within the meaning of Minnesota Statutes, section 169.011, subdivision 16, along the segment of West Seventh Street between its intersection with marked Interstate Highway 35E and downtown St. Paul. The restrictions must be designed to reduce the level of commercial vehicle traffic on the described section of West Seventh Street.

There was no chance such an intrusion into a city’s business was going to pass, but that didn’t stop lawmakers from the joy of poking Saint Paul in the eye.

“The precedent in this body is to do those things without their consent,” Sen. David Hann said about the objection that the Senate was interfering with Saint Paul. “We did the bullying bill that no district asked for because we know better.”

“There’s business and restaurants on that street, so it’s totally appropriate to have commercial vehicles there,” countered Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul. “I don’t know how all of you would feel if one of your colleagues said that a commercial avenue in your district by legislative mandate couldn’t take commercial vehicles. It seems an inappropriate intrustion into … businesses that need to have things picked up and delivered.”

“It’s an intrusion on our country,” Sen. Hall responded. “I can’t imagine that people on Seventh Street want that traffic coming day and night. I would think the Saint Paul legislators would jump on this one.”

“It’s not healthy,” Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, said of the Senate’s newfound concern for West Seventh Street. “It’s not good from a safety perspective.”

The Senate shot down the bill easily, but Hall wasn’t done. He immediately filed an amendment calling for I-35W to be renamed the “Senator Sandy Pappas and Senator Richard Cohen Practice Freeway.”

That got shot down, too. But it was close.

  • Grace Kelly

    The one time that neighborhoods won over the car culture.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    From my perspective, I can see whats left of the Landmark Brewery from my front porch, its obvious the Senator from Burnsville hates hockey and beer. (And the combination even more so.)

  • John

    And I’m sure these same legislators sit around wondering why people think they behave like 4 year olds, and question their ability to govern.

    Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the folks making these proposals actually think they have a chance, what do they stand to gain if the speed limit is raised or W 7th St doesn’t allow trucks? What do they gain by continually putting forth legislation that they already know is going to fail? I’m really trying to understand their angle. (I’m also assuming they’re all greasy weasels who are in it for themselves somehow).

    Sorry for my insult to weasels.

  • Guest

    Nobody drives 45 mph on that section of 35E.

    Here’s how it goes (Southbound)
    Rosevillel = 60 mph
    Spaghetti Junction = “Whoa!! Where in the world is my lane going?!?” = 55 mph
    Found your lane again, hopefully stayed on 35E = 50 mph
    Down the hill towards the Cathedral = 60 mph
    Around the curves = 52 mph
    Around the slow drivers = 57 mph
    Over the river = 60 mph
    Mendota Heights = 65 mph
    Eagan = SEVENTY FIVE, BABY!!!

  • uko

    speed trap $$$

  • John O.

    Even after the 35W bridge collapse and the forced rerouting of truck traffic through the Twin Cities a few years back, a proposal to even temporarily increase the speed limit on the 35E parkway was rejected out-of-hand. 100 years from now, it will probably still be posted at 45 mph and Ayd Mill Road will still rearrange your dental work.

  • Jeff C.

    If these legislators think that the state can renege on their side of the agreement, do they think the neighborhood can renege on theirs? You can’t raise the speed limit just like you can’t take the highway away. It’s called a compromise, folks – both parties gain something and both loose something. It would be nice if these legislators saw compromise as a sign of good work, not weakness.