Minneapolis officials urge residents to support businesses affected by bridge collapse

Any afternoon rush hour, Gwen Engelbert can look out the front window and see traffic cops wildly waving drivers past her E. Hennepin Avenue boutique.The patrols are needed to help manage a surge of traffic congestion in the East Bank and Marcy Holmes neighborhoods in Minneapolis since the Interstate 35W bridge collapsed Aug. 1. But it doesn’t exactly help a business trying to catch a few drivers’ eyes with window displays and sale banners. “We went from slow growth to a downward turn,” said Engelbert, who co-owns Key North, at 514 E. Hennepin Ave., with her partner Katie Greene. Unlike businesses to the east on Johnson Street, who are hurting from fewer people driving past, shops in these neighborhoods are dealing with too much traffic on their doorsteps. Continue Reading

Showdown time: Legislators invite Governor to show up and explain where the money went

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty has a tough choice to make on Monday. Legislators have sent him a letter indicating he can either show up to tell a legislative committee how the money he said he had for the 35W bridge disappeared just as suddenly as the bridge did, or he faces delaying other transportation projects. The “Transportation Contingent Appropriations Group” is the legislative commission that must approve Governor Pawlenty’s request to use money from the state’s reserves to cover costs for the 35W bridge rebuilding. Earlier this month, Governor Pawlenty convinced legislative leaders that a special session on transportation was not needed because the Federal Government was paying for the 35W bridge reconstruction and the state had plenty of funds to cover its obligations. Since then, President George Bush has threatened to veto the legislation that contains the funding for the 35W bridge. Continue Reading