The Musicant Group’s work with the Lake Street Council via a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN Center for prevention was recently featured in Finance & Commerce here.
Minneapolis unveiled new concepts this week for the city’s first shared street for bikes, pedestrians and vehicles.
As the city plans to reconstruct 29th Street alongside the Midtown Greenway and several new developments, officials want to repurpose the pothole-filled and seldom traveled street into a more vibrant public place.
The city plans to eventually reconstruct 29th Street between Lyndale and Fremont avenues with design elements meant to slow vehicle traffic and create a safe environment for biking, walking and other activities.
The road is an ideal candidate for the project because its poor condition means it sees little vehicle traffic today, said Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Bender. It’s in a part of town where the city is attracting many new residents and it’s very close to the greenway.
“The community saw it as an opportunity to do something more innovative,” Bender said. “They wanted something more like a plaza than a road.”
The shared street concept calls for elevating the roadway to the sidewalk level and creating one curbless surface for all modes. The shared street is new to Minneapolis, but there are others in Seattle and one under construction in Chicago. Several developers are including short shared streets, called “woonerfs,” in upcoming projects.
“It’s mostly designed for people to walk and bicycle, but cars are allowed at a slow pace,” Bender said. The space can also be programmed for activities during different times of the year.
The first phase of the project, which is planned for construction in 2016, would be from Lyndale to Bryant Avenue. The first phase is already included in the city’s capital improvement budget for $700,000 and would move into final design next fall. The first phase of the street could be open to the public before winter 2016. Subsequent phases would cost about $1.4 million, according to city documents.
The land uses get more “complicated” farther west, Bender said. For example, the right of way for the road behind the Cub Foods is not owned by the city but by the grocery store. As sites on the western end redevelop, portions of the shared street could be constructed in coordination with those projects, she said.
The city and other stakeholders shared a vision for the new street last weekend during the Open Streets festival on Lyndale Avenue. Visitors were able to experience what the road would be like with more pedestrian activity and public space.
The Lake Street Council received a grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield to showcase the potential for the space this summer. The grant was used to set up the shared street concept last Sunday and to install a temporary “parklet” on 29th Street that will be in place all summer.
The street today is barrier between residents and retail establishments along Lake Street and the Midtown Greenway, said Max Musicant, who runs a placemaking firm retained by the Lake Street Council to plan activities on 29th Street.
“It’s just an ugly street which separates the property owners and businesses from that super valuable amenity of the Greenway,” he said.
The street is lined with new apartment complexes and the fully leased MoZaic office and retail building. A redesigned street that attracts pedestrians and cyclists will bring more customers to businesses, Musicant said.
From the city’s perspective, it’s important to add community value in infrastructure projects.
“Instead of just putting in a roadway designed for cars to move through the space, we can create a true community asset for people,” Bender said. “The cost is so comparable to a regular road. The community is getting a huge benefit for little or no extra cost to the city.”
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