Once again this week’s TPW committee was packed with items that fascinate me and bore my girlfriend. I’m going to comment on a couple:
Cedar Ave S Bridge
If you want a sample of the byzantine nature of transportation funding in the state of Minnesota, check out the RCA for this project. Hennepin County is going to widen sidewalks on the bridge that carries Cedar Ave over CR-122 (referred to as Washington Ave SE in the committee agenda; someday I’ll post my rant on Minneapolis’ street naming “system” if I can cut it down to a length that doesn’t crash WordPress), also they’re replacing some streetlights and adding some nice railings. If I’m reading it right, the only reason the issue is coming before the council is that Hennepin County awarded the city a TOD grant for this project, even though the county will be doing the work (“The project scope has limited implications to the City” according to the RCA). The county seems to have awarded itself a grant. Interesting the contortions that need to be made in order to improve the pedestrian environment.
If the project looks familiar, that’s because it first came up as a sweetener for the highway expansion project that Hennepin County submitted to the TIGER program. It’s heartening that the County took this sweetener seriously enough to pursue it even without “free” money. The RCA doesn’t mention widening the bridge, but mentions the same sidewalk widths as the TIGER application, implying the plan hasn’t changed. Also not mentioned is the bridgehead “flaring” depicted in the sketch above; my guess is it won’t be included – the document I took the sketch from lists the flaring as a $750k expense over and above the $1m for widened sidewalks; the RCA lists the project cost as $1m total.
Van White Boulevard
Pretty much everyone who’s been on Lyndale north of the Bottleneck has wished for another way between Uptown and the Northside. Our wish will be granted by the Fall of 2012, when a half-mile segment of Van White Boulevard is scheduled to be completed at the cost of $42m per mile. (Drivers, of course, will still have to contend with the Bottleneck itself, but the more mobile modes will be able to walk or bike through the park and avoid the mess – hopefully long-term plans include some paths through the mansions and up Lowry Hill, but I won’t count on it).
In order to just get this damn road built, they’re probably going to phase the project: where the long-term plan calls for two bridges over the railroad tracks, each carrying one direction of travel, instead at first only one bridge will be built carrying both directions of travel. I can’t help but ask the question why, then, they are planning to build two bridges at all. The Bassett Creek Valley Plan answers that question – the city is planning for a lot of redevelopment in this area (although Hennepin County may throw a monkey wrench in the works).
The plan includes a bike path on the east side in place of the sidewalk. North of Glenwood, it is a multi-use trail, with 6′ for pedestrians in addition to 10′ of bidirectional bike path; south of Glenwood the ped space disappears. While I’m not much of a separatist in terms of non-motorized traffic, it seems like they could have designed it to include walking space along the entire segment. It even looks like they bought enough right-of-way for it; isn’t it just the same old story that a bridge would be designed for twice the projected amount of cars but half the projected amount of pedestrians?