More than 125 people gathered around a small stage at Finnegan’s Tap Room in downtown Minneapolis for the show. MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle and Metro District Engineer Scott McBride joined host Tane Danger with The Theater of Public Policy, on stage for a light-hearted discussion about the 35W@94 Downtown to Crosstown Project and to answer questions from the audience.

Before the show people enjoyed snacks, conversation with other attendees, and had the opportunity to view the drone footage, rendering of the project on a large screen, and take an online engagement survey at the project information table.

Tane Danger asked questions such as, “Why is it taking so long to build the new pedestrian bridges?” and “Why are all the ramps into downtown closed at the same time?

The pedestrian bridges can’t be finished until work on the freeway lanes going north is complete. Traffic is running in the northbound lanes and crews can’t safely access the areas they need to work.

The ramps are closed because motorists would be unable to access them or would be unable to enter the freeway safely.

McBride and Commissioner Zelle provided candid and honest responses that kept the audience engaged and laughing for more than 45 minutes.

The audience learned that this project has been in the works for eight years and how the construction on Interstate 494, Highway 100 and Highway 169 was all in preparation for “The big one,” which is Interstate 35W.

Commissioner Zelle discussed how MnDOT is committing more time and resources to public engagement on this project. Events such as comedy night and dinner on the 38th St. Bridge are a few examples.

“This was the most creative involvement event I’ve ever seen, let alone been a part of,” McBride said.