Some TLC for non-motor transit

Oberstar-backed grant to nonprofit will benefit Bridge-area bikers

The Twin Cities — and Bridgeland in particular — will be the beneficiaries of $7.3 million in federal funding for infrastructure projects intended to increase the rates of bicycling and walking while examining how the work can improve traffic congestion, energy use, health and the environment.

The program, called Bike Walk Twin Cities, is part of the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project — one of four in the country. The St. Paul-based nonprofit Transit for Livable Communities (TLC) was selected to administer the funds, which were made possible largely by U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar.

City officials, TLC staff and board members, and members of the 25-person community advisory committee that provided input on the projects thanked Oberstar at the June 7 announcement at Brian Coyle Community Center in Cedar-Riverside.

“This represents a change in the way people think about transportation,” said Ward 2 Council Member Cam Gordon. “However far we’re going with this, we can go further.”

Of the 31 approved projects, almost half are in The Bridge coverage area. “I think that’s right,” said Mayor R.T. Rybak in a later interview. “It’s the area best able to get people out of cars and onto foot, bike and transit.”

The individual projects should not only benefit the immediate areas, but make connections between existing bike routes and communities within and adjacent to Minneapolis. The largest — the $2.5 million University of Minnesota Trail project — will create a dedicated bike path along the railroad corridor between the university and the bike and pedestrian corridor leading to St. Paul.

Completion dates are uncertain for the projects, but the pilot program is funded through 2010. A second round of pedestrian-related projects gets off the ground in the fall of 2008, as well.

Below is a summary of Bridge-area projects, including the related neighborhoods and amount of funding approved for each.

Hennepin Avenue planning, $50,000
Nicollet Island/East Bank, Downtown East
This study will examine how to implement bike lanes on Hennepin Avenue from Southeast Eighth Street to the Hennepin/Lyndale interchange near Loring Park.

Central Avenue Northeast planning, $50,000
Nicollet Island/East Bank
This study will examine possible improvements of biking conditions along Central Avenue from the Mississippi River to 37th Avenue Northeast.

Northeast Fifth Street, $50,000
Nicollet Island/East Bank, Southeast and University neighborhoods
This 1.97-mile project will add a “bicycle boulevard” treatment — a street that gives priority to bicyclists, with signage, striping, bike racks, curb cuts and non-permanent traffic diverters, according to TLC — that will connect Northeast Minneapolis with the Southeast Minneapolis and the university.

LRT Trail Downtown connection, $1,800,000
Downtown East
A bike path along South Third Street, another on Fourth Avenue South and an off-street trail from near the Metrodome to 11th Avenue South will connect the end of the Hiawatha LRT trail (at 11th Avenue, just across the bike bridge from Cedar-Riverside) to downtown.

LRT Trail roundabout, $60,000
Longfellow, Seward
The first bicycle roundabout in Minnesota, planned for the intersection of the Hiawatha LRT Trail and Midtown Greenway, is designed to safely and efficiently move bicyclists and pedestrians through this busy area by separating bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as acting as a rest stop. The roundabout — a symbolic replication of a former roundhouse that once existed nearby — will feature informational and historical information, including old photographs and a trail map.

East Franklin Avenue, $50,000
Prospect Park, Seward
A half-mile of experimental colored bike lanes will cross the Franklin Avenue Bridge as part of the conversion of the road from four to three lanes.

Minnehaha/20th Avenue South, $150,000
Seward, Longfellow
This 1.73-mile project will add bike lanes, signage and bike racks along the Minnehaha Avenue corridor and upgrade existing bike lanes on 20th Avenue South.

19th Avenue South, $100,000
Cedar-Riverside, University
This mile-long project will add bike lanes to 19th Avenue South — which is set to be converted from four lanes to three — and 10th Avenue Southeast, connecting the U of M’s West Bank Campus with Marcy-Holmes and the university across the river.

10th Avenue Southeast, $100,000
Marcy-Holmes, University
This project will extend the above-mentioned 10th Avenue Southeast bike lanes from University Avenue Southeast to Como Avenue.

Riverside Avenue — eastern and western segments, $150,000 each
Cedar-Riverside, Seward
As Riverside Avenue is converted form four lanes to three, bike lanes, striping, signage, colored pavement and bike racks will be added.

University of Minnesota Trail, $2,500,000
Prospect Park, University
This, the largest of the Bridge-area projects, will create a dedicated bike path through a railroad corridor that begins near the end of existing bike and pedestrian bridge between the West Bank and East Bank campuses, connecting to a bike and pedestrian corridor leading to St. Paul.

Como Avenue Southeast, $50,000
This near-mile-long project will add “shared bike lanes” to Como Avenue, with signage, striping and bike racks. It will also connect missing pieces of existing paths on Rollins Avenue Southeast and 15th and 17th avenues Southeast.

27th Avenue Southeast, $100,000
This half-mile project will add bike lanes to 27th Avenue Southeast, with signage, striping and bike racks. It may require a conversion of the road from four to three or even two lanes, with the possibility of opening rush-hour-restricted parking to 24 hours.

Hennepin County had also applied for $3.5 million in Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project funds to put toward a bridge that would carry the Midtown Greenway across the Mississippi River to St. Paul, but the county did not receive any funding through the TLC grant.

Another Greenway bridge — not funded through the TLC grant — that will span Hiawatha Avenue is currently under construction and expected to be done in November.

last revised: July 6, 2007