Architectural rendering courtesy Design by Melo and Visuals by James

Federal grant invests $2M in St. Paul ReConnect Rondo project 

Funding from the bipartisan infrastructure law’s “Reconnecting Communities” pilot will explore feasibility of a land bridge.

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ST. PAUL — Today, Mayor Carter announced receipt of the Reconnecting Communities Grant, a “monumental step toward rebuilding Saint Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood.”

The federal grant, to which the City of Saint Paul and ReConnect Rondo were co-applicants, awarded $2 million toward funding ReConnect Rondo’s vision for a restorative land bridge.

St. Paul’s Rondo Neighborhood was the center of the black community in the Minneapolis–St. Paul region for much of the 20th century. The intact Rondo neighborhood was socially and economically active, as well as self-supportive.

The Rondo neighborhood is one community of hundreds across the country that were uprooted to construct the federal highway system. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $1 billion to aid impacted neighborhoods.

“I’m grateful for Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, and Congresswoman McCollum’s work to secure funding for an incredible project,” said Mayor Carter. “Rebuilding the Rondo community benefits all of us, and a land bridge brings exciting possibilities to the table.” 

Land Bridge planning. Animation courtesy HGA.

The $2 million grant is matched by $500,000 previously committed to by the City of Saint Paul and the state legislature in 2021.

“ReConnect Rondo’s neighborhood-led vision is important,” said U.S. Rep McCollum, “and will create opportunities for community empowerment and economic growth. Most importantly, it allows for reconciliation and healing for a community that was cruelly ripped apart, and I am honored to have helped facilitate bringing these funds to the Fourth District.” 

The total $2.5 million will be used for an environmental impact analysis, neighborhood traffic analysis and modeling, and community engagement around the effects of creating new land over Interstate 94.

“I am proud to say that the City Council supported ReConnect Rondo’s application by a unanimous Resolution,” said Councilmember Russel Balenger. “As the Councilmember for Ward 1 and a lifelong Rondo community member, it is important to me that we ensure better access to mobility options and support a healthier future for the community.” 

The dollars will also aid in the coordination of plans between the land bridge and MnDOT’s “ReThinking I-94” initiative, especially those involving environmental impact and traffic. 

“The timing was fortuitous,” said ReConnect Rondo Executive Director Keith Baker, “but it is also incredibly validating to see the federal government take responsibility for the lasting harm rendered on communities all these years later with hard dollars that can materially help us today in our effort to springboard into a more healthy and planful future.” 

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