It was great to start off studying the history of Interstate 94 with a local production of the play “The Highway Men.” The play was very insightful into the workings of the route and the opposition of the people of the Rondo neighborhood.
Some of the major takeaways from the play include:
- There was a proposal from the people of Rondo. If they couldn’t divert the path of the new interstate, they were very well going to try to make the best of it. They had asked for the highway to be depressed with crossings over it to maintain connection in their neighborhood
- There was a internal opposition in the planning committee. The city planner of St. Paul went out to experience the neighborhood, and came back with fresh eyes. He saw the passion and liveliness of the Rondo people and could not bear to watch it be destroyed
- The planning committee member of Italian decent was once bullied for his origin, so he saw no problem in bullying another group of people. He is looking out for himself and his people
- Many people were displaced because the highway cut through homes and businesses
The interstate was meant to connect the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul directly.
In doing further research, another neighborhood upset by I-94 was Prospect Park, although not until later years. Prospect Park residents were able to divert the interstate alongside its boarder. They were glad of it’s placement because it provided greater access to jobs for the residents. However, they did not realize that it cut off connection to the Mississippi Riverfront and its’ green space.
Some of the streets in Prospect Park along the I-94 corridor lack human scale. A roundabout has been proposed and Franklin and East River Road to influence congestion and safer crossing.