Northside Greenway discussion begins again

This article was written by Connor Cummiskey

            Minneapolis is preparing residents for a new round of engagement on the Northside Greenway project, which could start next year.

            City staff updated residents on phase one of the project during an online open house in April. Vision Zero Program Coordinator Ethan Fawley informed residents the City is currently seeking a grant that could help fund the project. If successful, detailed planning and engagement would begin in 2023, while construction is expected for 2026, said Fawley.

            Phase one of the project potentially would install green spaces, bikeways, pedestrian improvements and traffic calming measures along a north-south corridor between 26th Avenue North and Shingle Creek Trail.

            The greenway would run along North Irving Avenue to 36th Avenue North. From there it would run along North Humboldt Avenue for its remainder.

            “I think at the core what this project is – it is a traffic calming project, with an opportunity to build-in other elements based on community wants and desires,” Fawley said.

            In 2020 the Capital Long-Range Improvement Committee recommended the project for inclusion in the City capital budget planned for 2026. It is anticipated to cost $7.5 million total. Most of that, $5.5 million, is proposed to come from the federal grant, according to the committee’s budget request.

            No final decisions have been made on the project. Those details are expected to be worked out during the upcoming round of engagements, according to Fawley. However, there are three general options for what it could look like.

            The first option is a bicycle boulevard, which only would install traffic calming measures such as traffic circles or speed bumps.

            A second option is a half greenway. This would include a trail and reduce the road to a one-way for vehicular traffic, though it would reduce on-street parking to one side of the street.

            A full greenway is the third potential option. This option would replace the street with a linear parkway and trail. It would add green space and potentially outdoor facilities, but would restrict vehicle access/parking to side streets and alleys. Emergency vehicles could use the trail for access when needed.

            The idea was originally proposed by the community in 2011, according to Fawley. Six surveys were performed between then and 2017, focused primarily on routing and interest.

            In 2016 and 2017 the City installed a temporary greenway along Irving, demonstrating what a greenway could look like.

            “What we found there is, again, that there was quite a lot of interest of the idea of a greenway on the street, and people saw that idea in different ways,” Fawley said.

            A survey of residents taken after the temporary greenway test project indicated 73% of residents on or within one block of the test supported some form of greenway, according to the City.

            During the April open house, some attendees shared concerns that the City wasn’t taking local concerns about the project seriously enough and had not performed more surveys to garner feedback from current residents.

            The City will be seeking more feedback as the new round of resident engagement begins. If the City receives the grant, that process could begin in 2023 and run through 2024, according to Fawley.    

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