The Met Council is Spending $6,000,000 on this Unnecessary Pedestrian Bridge?

Vikings stadium pedestrian bridgeCheck out this bridge! It’s a pedestrian bridge–meaning that it’s for pedestrians, walking “on foot” with their legs. For the sake of this post, say that you were in the market for a pedestrian bridge and, bear with me here, you wanted one that looked just like that one in the picture, but less pixelated and with a better-looking train under it.

How much would you bid, on this pedestrian bridge that crosses a lightly-used two lane street and the corner of a train station?

One half of one million dollars?

One million dollars?

Two million dollars?

More than that? And yes, we are speaking about American dollars, currently one of the stronger currencies out there.

So…three million dollars? No?

If you would have stopped bidding at two million dollars, you would have lost the “auction” handily!

DTE Station Layout

Location of Downtown East Station, planned pedestrian bridge

On Monday, the Transportation Committee of the Metropolitan Council (an organization the author of this post has gone out of his way to defend the existence of at length in his free time) voted to spend $6 million dollars on that pedestrian bridge! The need that has been expressed is that many people (thousands!) are expected to arrive at the new Vikings stadium via light rail transit on the Blue and Green Lines, a mode shift that should be celebrated. In the future, the extension of the Green Line will directly connect the Vikings stadium by rail transit to Vikings season ticket holder central, in the southwest metro, and maybe even more people will arrive via transit.

But is preventing thousands of Vikings fans from touching a Minneapolis street worth the cost of this pedestrian bridge?

Sabo Bridge

Martin Olav Sabo Bridge (Source: bikede.org)

Seeking to discover how onerous this proposition in fact was, I researched “pedestrian bridge costs” and it would appear that this is an expensive pedestrian bridge by many measures. The Martin Olav Sabo bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 55 and the Blue Line, which is far larger than this bridge and also looks nice and used by people everyday and is not completely unnecessary, cost $5.1 million dollars.

Furthermore, this bridge is being built (by the Metropolitan Council, not the Vikings!) for Vikings games, which occur at home eight times per annum, plus the playoffs, maybe. A Vikings game is the only conceivable event for which this bridge will be used, because all other non-2018 Superbowl and 2019 Final Four events that this stadium will host will be so lightly-attended that people will just cross the tracks at the light rail station rather than backtrack up some ramp. Unless they do something absurd like fence off the existing pedestrian route, which will probably happen in two years in order to justify the $6 million dollars spent on the bridge.

In addition, the underground parking ramp sitting next to Downtown East Station is owned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, and, in theory, would be a good candidate for redevelopment at some point, but it will be significantly impacted by this bridge, which will eat up much of its above ground area, and make it much less attractive for private sector redevelopment.

One option for not spending $6 million dollars on this pedestrian bridge is that people could instead cross Chicago Avenue, a fairly lightly used two lane street which separates the train station from the Vikings stadium. It is odd that 23rd Avenue Southeast, between the Gopher football stadium and Stadium Village station, is closed at the end of Gopher football games (and, currently, Vikings games) to facilitate pedestrian movement to and queuing for the Green Line, and that is all kosher, but this would not be.

Stadium VillageFurtherestmore, are there better uses of $6 million dollars of finite Metropolitan Council money?

Per a Finance & Commerce article,

“Council member Jennifer Munt, who represents the Minnetonka area, agreed that the pedestrian connection is needed for safety reasons but said the Vikings should be paying more because the project will mostly benefit the team’s fans. She pointed to other system priorities—like shelters with light and heat in the region’s poorest areas—as better uses of $6 million in Met Council funds.”

Council member Jennifer Munt from Minnetonka is correct that those things are better uses of $6 million dollars. The International Space Station orbits between 330 and 435 kilometers above the Earth; if you stacked $6 million dollars worth of pennies on top of each other, it would be more than twice as tall as that orbit. Alternatively, 1,000 bus shelters could be purchased, or perhaps 100 heated bus shelters. Or, if we were averse to spending money on buses for fear our constituents would not use them, we could put $6 million dollars towards converting Downtown East Station to a center island station, so that people transferring betwixt the Blue and Green Lines would not need to walk across the tracks.

The full council will vote on this $6 million dollar pedestrian bridge on April 22.

4/17/15 Update: It has been mentioned in several places that comparing the height of a stack of 600 million pennies to the orbit of the International Space Station is an unhelpful metric for assessing the cost of this unnecessary $6 million dollar bridge. The author admits that this is perhaps an irrelevant comparison, as it will not be paid for in pennies, but rather in crisp, new dollar bills. A stack of 6 million dollar bills would be only 2,150 feet tall, equivalent to 2.71 IDS Centers. Thank you.


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59 Responses to The Met Council is Spending $6,000,000 on this Unnecessary Pedestrian Bridge?

  1. Mike Hicks April 16, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    Something that makes this doubly confusing is the fact that Chicago Ave (also/formerly known as Kirby Puckett Place) has always been closed to traffic whenever I’ve been in the area for a game with the Vikings or Gophers, and I’m pretty sure it was frequently shut off during Twins games (maybe not as often). At any rate, there are permanently-installed gates to allow the area to be used as a plaza.

    I haven’t followed the Vikings stadium development all that closely, so I haven’t heard of any suggestion that this would change for the new building. Don’t security concerns usually cause streets to be closed off next to the stadium anyway? (Or has that gone away now that post-9/11 paranoia has calmed down a bit?)

  2. Wayne April 16, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    We have to waste all our public money on marginal amenities for sports fans so we can claim poverty when it comes time to pay for things that benefit the poorest and neediest among us. USA! USA!

    I’d also like to take this opportunity to re-open the one million dollar wound that is the Mall of America pedestrian bridge across Killebrew that makes using the transit station to access points south involve passing through ‘private’ mall property and walking about 2-3x as far as the actual as-the-crow-flies distance via meandering paths and limited access. We sure do know how to build pedestrian infrastructure here!

  3. Ben April 16, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    Go figure, the unelected, unaccountable Met Council inventing new ways to waist our hard earned tax dollars. Time to reign in their power and put some checks and balances in.

  4. ben April 16, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Interesting because its going to the northbound side of the tracks which means this is actually only trying to alleviate the pedestrian volume for the pre-game and not the post-game. I bet pre-game is more spread out as well…..

    (not surprising though given that the city seems to have no problem with continuing to expand skyways and making streetlife a constant challenge. seems to be plenty of other similar problems in downtown east, e.g. skyway between stadium and parking garage, the wells fargo building skyways, rest of downtown, etc.)

  5. Sean Hayford Oleary
    Sean Hayford Oleary April 16, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    It’s offensive, but not as offensive (IMO) as the $4 million Bloomington bridge project on Killebrew Drive, which both will serve very few, and will make the few it serves walk farther and at lesser convenience than the former grade crossings. Those former grade crossings were, of course, removed, and “decorative” Jersey barriers were installed to “direct” pedestrians to the new bridge. Upon arrival to the Mall property, pedestrians are greeted by this poorly marked crossing within a parking garage to cross. Then just winding around the Radisson Blu hotel where employees take their smoke breaks, one more dangerous pedestrian crossing, and you’ve arrived!

    I assume pedestrians on this stadium bridge will at least retain the option to cross at the light.

    But seriously, this does seem a bit more justifiable, since you’re likely to have very large pedestrian flows after games. There’s a limit to how many folks you can fit through a crosswalk during a cycle — unless of course Chicago is closed anyway, as Mike notes above.

    • Monte Castleman
      Monte Castleman April 16, 2015 at 10:07 am #

      Although I support the concept of the Killebrew Bridge, I admit the actual implementation was, at best, suboptimal. One thing that went away was using different colored lighting in the parking garages to differentiate pedestrian areas.

      Although I admit there’s a lot better uses of resources, but the cost of the Vikings Bridge isn’t out of line for a pedestrian bridge nowadays, and isn’t it more for crossing the light rail tracks after games when both train and pedestrian traffic are heavy.

      • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 10:16 am #

        I don’t support the concept at all. If anything they should have tried to calm Killebrew and not turn it into a pseudo-highway like they did. If they’re so desperate to funnel cars from the highway to the mall, have the mall go in on some ramps from the highway directly to their parking structures and avoid the street altogether. Then have the rest of the people trying to reach other destinations use a calmed Killebrew that retains grade crossings.

        But Bloomington would just say “LOL NO” and add a few more lanes, so whatever. I avoid going to Bloomington whenever possible (which is almost always … I think I’ve been there like once in the last six months?) because of the pisspoor planning decisions they make. I’m beyond thrilled to not have to work there anymore.

  6. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg April 16, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    Perhaps this will be the reality. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CCt-DXtWAAAcnY8.jpg

    I wouldn’t want to be the traffic cop herding 26,000 fans across tracks to avoid having them hit by trains, but it does beg the question how many traffic cops does it take to get to $6 million?

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 16, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Let’s do the math on that one. Traffic cops + metal fences…

    • Julie Kosbab April 16, 2015 at 9:40 am #

      Answer: Quite a lot. And the OT pay has a longer-term trickle effect on the economy, as I’m fairly sure most of them posted on fall Saturdays spend it primarily on hunting trips and Christmas/festive winter holiday gifts.

      • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 10:24 am #

        Spoiler alert: they’re already going to have a ton of cops around anyway, so I think the number of hours of OT that would be saved is negligible since they’ll just be there herding them over the bridge instead. I think this is more about the opportunity cost of spending that money on this stupid bridge instead of something useful and necessary.

  7. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller April 16, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    I thought they closed that section of Chicago for games already anyway. Unless that’s going to change, this is really just about crossing the tracks.

    Pet peeve, though: it’s 10 games a year. Pre-season games draw crowds too.

    • Julie Kosbab April 16, 2015 at 9:54 am #

      Well, let’s even be generous and give the Vikings a couple playoff games in a 10-year span. Let’s say, 5. Maybe they get a first round bye some year.

      ZygiDome is a 73,000 capacity stadium.

      Let’s assume all sell-outs, because the team will be competitive (thus, playoffs), and 2/3 of all attendees cross the bridge.

      So, that’s 105 games * 48,500 fans/game = 5,092,500 pedestrian trips in 10 years.

      Buck a round trip or so in 10 years, assuming a fairly generous usage number.

      COMEDY OPTION: Dress Nick in a troll suit and have him take tolls on the bridge, making it a Troll Bridge. Norway was the land of vikings and they LOVE trolls. It could be very swell.

      …and then everyone would use the street anyway.

      • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 10:18 am #

        Troll tolls? If that were in any way possible the Vikings would already have an exclusive agreement to collect all tolls in perpetuity on infrastructure they didn’t spend a dime on.

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke April 16, 2015 at 10:28 am #

        The other thing to think about when designing for actual behavior is that only a certain percentage of fans will use the infrastructure in the way that its intended…. They’ll be paying for traffic cops regardless, and fans will be crossing the tracks at grade regardless.

        This seems like the most expensive and condescending solution they could come up with, akin to the extremely over-engineered Washington Avenue ped signals. Metro Transit and the U of MN believed that students weren’t smart enough to figure out how to not get hit by trains, so created all these hugely expensive signs that detract from the public realm… and that everyone ignores. You can watch the result any day on Washington Avenue.

        It seems like the same kind of over-determined thinking is going into this problem.

        Another parallel is the previously existing 70s-era ped bridge that existed at Cedar and 5th by Cedar Riverside, which caused a “slice” of the Palmers Bar building to be taken out, and was quickly removed. Today, county engineers have finally calmed Cedar Avenue and created an at-grade crossing, and everything works fine. Much like skyways, downtown ped bridges are dinosaurs waiting for extinction.

        • Matty Lang
          Matty Lang April 16, 2015 at 11:37 am #

          Well Bill, students are a lot smarter than drunken NFL fans. Don’t forget about what those two Iowa Hawkeyes fans did in the Metronome restroom.

          • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

            Is it terrible I kind of don’t value their lives at $6 Million? Maybe $60,000 or so …

            I’m auditioning for that troll role, so I gotta get my practice in.

          • Julie Kosbab April 16, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

            Speaking as a Hawkeye alumni, I can only tell you we’re lucky that’s ALL they did.

        • Rosa April 17, 2015 at 7:24 am #

          YES.

          Long time ago, when there was a big hole in the ground between the Metrodome and the Star Tribune for utility work, before the train station was finished, I got to watch this poor guy guard the (fenced, marked) hole after a Twins game so drunks didn’t fall in. He spent most of the evening stopping people from CLIMBING in. “Don’t go in the hole! Don’t go in the hole! Leave the hole alone!” on the megaphone.

          That bridge looks to me like a place for drunks and children to throw things into the crowd from.

      • Andrew B April 16, 2015 at 10:46 am #

        I second Nick dressed as a troll.

        • Julie Kosbab April 16, 2015 at 11:14 am #

          A bunch of traffic cops dressed as trolls at street level would be adequate and cheaper.

  8. Peter Bajurny April 16, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    The point of this bridge is to allow pedestrians to cross the tracks. There are, in theory, trains ever 2.5 minutes (10 minute frequencies, 4 trains total in all directions). I haven’t looked super closely but it looks like someone did the math for that original Met Council presentation to say that moving all those fans in 2 minute windows won’t work that well.

    So this isn’t about traffic on Chicago, it’s about pedestrians crossing the tracks.

    But right now the vast majority of people won’t be crossing the tracks, they’ll be going toward St Paul or MOA on the stadium-side platform. Let’s wait a few years and see how things pan out before we put all this money into this.

    • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      or they could have the train moved into a nice new tunnel under 4th street and use the approach north of the stadium to change grades, then have the LRT be a proper subway through downtown before re-emerging just before 394 and crossing at an angle to meet back up with the other stupid stadium station.

      • Nathanael April 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

        If they had really thought this through, the new stadium design would have the train going directly under it, in the alignment of 5th Street, with the stadium built directly on top. Cut-and-cover subway, and the path from the stadium to the station is vertical.

        You can only really do this while the stadium’s being built, though. 🙁 So opportunity missed.

    • Matt April 16, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

      How do you figure that a majority of people would be going toward St Paul or MOA?

      • Julie Kosbab April 16, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

        Not a lot of connections or parking the other way, unless people are parking in ABC Ramps. Northstar schedules on game days leave a lot to be desired. SWLRT is years out.

        So most of the places to go, places to park, etc. are going the other way.

  9. simeon April 16, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Bury the tracks.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 16, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      What’s the ballpark on costs for that?

      • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 10:41 am #

        I’m going to go with probably less than the public subsidy for the stadium.

      • Alex Cecchini
        Alex Cecchini April 16, 2015 at 11:13 am #

        Well, Baltimore’s Red Line LRT project includes a ~3 mile tunnel through downtown with 5 stations. Looking at FTA docs/other sources, it looks like the downtown tunnel added about $550m compared to a surface line along the same route. Assuming a 1.5 mile tunnel length through downtown with a few fixed costs, I’d say $300m is not an outrageous guess.

      • Matt Brillhart April 16, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

        “What’s the ballpark on costs for that?”

        Roughly one ballpark.

        • Sam Newberg
          Sam Newberg April 16, 2015 at 8:58 pm #

          Well said!

      • Alex Cecchini
        Alex Cecchini April 16, 2015 at 9:26 pm #

        Just a thought experiment. If we assume a tunnel similar to Seattle’s that does bus+LRT (handles 19 bus routes in addition to trains), we could move all the E-W buses down there as well. That’s well north of 10k bus passengers plus Blue/Green riders (let’s say combined 30k a day through downtown, being conservative). $300million bonded over 30 years at 5% is $28.5m/yr.

        Let’s assume all 40k passengers every weekday save just 1 minute per trip in a tunnel. That’s 10.4 million minutes saved a year (only on weekdays), or 173.3k hours. That’s spending $164 per hour saved – pretty high and probably not worth it. This ignores savings to drivers, pedestrians, buses crossing the LRT’s path, etc, but also ignores added time to get below the surface. 1 minute may also be underestimating the average time spent waiting.

        Anyway, just thought I’d put it out there…

        • Alex Cecchini
          Alex Cecchini April 16, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

          Compare that to the real (or opportunity) cost for the bridge. $6m over 30 years at 5% = $570k/yr. Assume 26k Vikings fans save ??? 5 ??? minutes with a ped bridge (very generous I’d say), 10 games a year. 1.3 million minutes, 21.6k hours. That’s $26 per person hour saved.

          That seems better. But I gotta believe $570k per year would more than pay for additional cops and metal fences.

          • Julie Kosbab April 17, 2015 at 10:34 am #

            I’ve seen an argument that the opportunity cost isn’t actually “bridge” vs. “cops.” It’s “bridge” vs. “drunk guy gets hit by train.”

            Cost of a pedestrian hit is pretty high for Metro Transit.

            • Alex Cecchini
              Alex Cecchini April 17, 2015 at 11:53 am #

              I believe that. And this is a super narrow way of looking at things (and I generally dislike user time cost/benefit analyses like that as justification for doing something).

              Sad that Metro Transit sees high costs for incidents whereas MnDOT or county/city engineers are shielded from the same.

              • Wayne April 17, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

                I was just about to point out that the cost/benefit analysis left out harder-to-quantify things like reduced maintenance due to weather or quality of waiting areas for the tunnels, but you beat me to calling that sort of analysis into question yourself ( ;

                Also I think if they ever did move the light rail into a tunnel under 4th they could retain the 5th street tracks for streetcars pretty easily and link up to a line down Chicago Ave (which desperately needs better transit service). So it’s not like most of that infrastructure would go to waste or anything.

            • Monte Castleman
              Monte Castleman April 17, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

              I don’t know what metro transit uses. Mn/DOT’s figure is $10.3 Million for a fatal crash, so using that logic if it saves one drunk Vikings fan from getting creamed by a train.

              • Paul Strebe April 17, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

                I checked with my Met Council rep. The Council is concerned that pedestrians won’t be able to make it across the tracks safely after games because trains are expected to be coming every two minutes(!). They could build a short “ground to ground” bridge instead of a skyway from the stadium. Of course after Packer-Viking games, service will likely be interrupted as despondent Viking fans throw themselves in front of the moving trains….

      • Nathanael April 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

        As I noted above, the tracks could have been buried directly under the stadium during stadium construction, had the stadium been designed appropriately. Cost would be minimal.

  10. Andrew B April 16, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    At what point should we stop paying taxes to the city and just give our money directly to the sports teams? They’ve got the city, county, & region so bent over a barrel anyway we might as well cut out the middleman.

  11. Alex Cecchini
    Alex Cecchini April 16, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    I guess I’d like to put this in perspective. Are there other places in downtown where crushloads of people will be using street(s), crossing at-grade LRT tracks? This whole train every 2.5 minutes (or 2 minutes given additional trains during Vikings games?) would is the norm everywhere else downtown, right? How many people exit Target Field and cross the tracks (for the platform or just heading north towards Deja Vu, everyone’s fave post-game experience)? How many people use Nicollet Mall on a busy Friday afternoon during rush hour? Maybe less (in both cases), but certainly more total delay over the course of a year, no?

    I guess I’m not arguing that accommodating 13k+ fans needing to cross the tracks to the westbound platform post-game would be tough at-grade with 2 minute headways. As others have noted, running 24 trains an hour through downtown seems like it deserves more grade separation than just a bridge for a stadium. Tunnel the damn tracks.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 16, 2015 at 11:22 am #

      You bring up an interesting point, which is the cost/benefit as averaged out throughout the day and throughout the year. This bridge will be useful for, at most, 20-40 hours per year. The other 363 “days” of the year, it’ll be a useless neglected eyesore.

      • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 11:24 am #

        But a transit tunnel will have benefits year-round for a larger group of people, and probably also help with this situation! (I’m thinking marginally warmer waits for the train in the dead of winter as well as more frequent/reliable train service).

        • Wayne April 16, 2015 at 11:25 am #

          Plus maybe once they tunnel through downtown they won’t be so afraid of a north-south tunnel option at some point because NICOLLET MALL IS TERRIBLE FOR TRANSIT.

  12. Alex Schieferdecker
    Alex Schieferdecker April 16, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    It’s incredibly wasteful. As condescending as the bridge idea is in the first place, I can’t figure out how it’s costing $6M. Is Calatrava designing it?

  13. Nick Magrino
    Nick Magrino April 16, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    One thing that we have not considered here is that, if it is cost-prohibitive and politically unpalatable to build grade separated transit in Downtown Minneapolis, we could also consider the following two options:

    1) Tunnel all of the roads

    2) Move the entire downtown up a level, to the second floor, similar to the situation in Seattle:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle_Underground

    Then we could leave the trains down there, but have automobile traffic on the new ground level. This could get expensive, as we’d have to renumber and reletter all of the elevator buttons–G would become B, etc–and we’d also have to move the skyways up to what’s now the third floor.

    Either would probably get more serious consideration at the Capitol than a transit tunnel.

    • Wayne April 22, 2015 at 8:58 am #

      Probably not, since it’s Minneapolis we’re talking about. If you wanted to raise all the streets in Rochester they’d open their checkbooks immediately though.

  14. Paul Strebe April 16, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    Am I the only one who thinks a bridge near a Vikings stadium is just a practical amenity? I mean, where else are Viking fans going to go after every playoff game to jump to their deaths?

    • Rosa April 17, 2015 at 7:36 am #

      This makes me especially mad today because I was just coming over here to ask about the pedestrian bridge over 62 at 13th Ave in Bloomington (Richfield? I got a little lost and at some point I was in Richfield). I was over in that area in a car yesterday and, trying to get back onto the grid after getting off a roundabout wrong, got a pretty good look at that bridge – it’s awful. It basically goes from nowhere to nowhere, and it’s stairs on both sides. If there were a wheelchair & bike-accessible bridge over 62 at 12th, the connectivity would be really nice and not route bike traffic over to Portland.

      • Sean Hayford Oleary
        Sean Hayford Oleary April 17, 2015 at 9:26 am #

        Technically both sides of that bridge are in Minneapolis, but it is literally a stone’s throw from the border with Richfield (Bloomington is only south of 78th/494).

        But yes, I agree. It was a really bizarre placement for a ped bridge. A modern (accessible) ped bridge should be placed at 12th Avenue, since that’s far more of a neighborhood through route than… the alley between 14th and 15th Avenue. And better spaced between Portland and Bloomington.

        I don’t see it as an either/or with the Portland crossing. Portland is much faster route to downtown and midtown than 12th Ave. But this is important for neighborhood connectivity — both for casual cyclists and for allowing residents of the Diamond Lake neighborhood to access Veterans Park.

        • Rosa April 17, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

          I ended up driving home on Portland and at first I was all, oh, the bike lanes look nice! But then they kept disappearing for right turn lanes over and over. Plus Portland is not at all direct down there, because of the parks/lakes.

          But you’re right, it’s not either-or, more connections should only make things better. I was just really struck by the awfulness of the pedestrian bridge, which I’d driven under but never had a chance to look at from anything but highway speeds.

          • Sean Hayford Oleary
            Sean Hayford Oleary April 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

            I assume you mean the section north of 60th? Believe it or not, those are designed correctly. They’re not technically right-turn lanes — just that the portion where right-turning cars need to merge is dashed to encourage cars to merge fully before turning right. Theoretically this helps protect bicyclists from “right hook” crashes.

            There is a slight detour around Diamond Lake and Pearl Park, but I don’t think it slows down much. The more annoying detour, IMO, is going over to Park Avenue when going northbound. It’s only two blocks out of the way, but it does feel a bit disjointed, and both options for accessing it are awkward. I usually use 46th, but many bicyclists don’t like turning left on 4-lane undivideds. You could take the Minnehaha bike path to connect, but there’s no curb cut to get to Park Ave.

            The big gap is 60th-66th. 66th-76th has temporary bike lane right now, and a permanent one (concrete, integrated with the curb) will be installed later this year. But no current plans for 60th-66th, unfortunately.

            • Rosa April 17, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

              I must have been admiring the temporary lane south of 66th, I started out at American Blvd, and the paint looked really new. I didn’t notice dashes (but I wouldn’t probably, they’d look normal to me.)

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 17, 2015 at 10:27 am #

      At risk of losing streets.mn readership, permit me to say “Go Pack Go!”

  15. Nick April 17, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    Does the Met Coucil have a kickback scheme going with construction companies? Then it would make perfect sense.

  16. Adam Duininck
    Adam Duininck May 7, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    I have been following this debate and in the middle of it since about this time last year when the item was brought to the Transportation Committee of the Met Council. At the time I, along with a number of colleagues, raised concerns about 1) the cost, 2) the share in which the team and Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) contributed, 3) the expenditure on the bridge occurring at a time when we also see needs in basic improvements to our entire transit system from bus shelters to signage to technological upgrades and so on. At the time we directed staff to go negotiate with the MSFA and the Vikings with that in mind.

    First on cost- this project was budgeted to cost around $8 million last year when we heard the item and now the budget is $6 million.

    Second on the share of the cost- while Met Council and Metro Transit will pay for the bridge, we have also negotiated an agreement, like we did with Target Field Station and the Ballpark Authority, to pay us for naming rights of the station and joint advertising. This is a way to get ongoing revenue from the team and the MSFA. Furthermore, we worked with MSFA also will contribute an additional $2 million to help make the plaza ready for transit customer use. This process of queuing our customers is an important way to efficiently and safely move people to and from events which will allow us to increase the mode share. It is both about safety and it’s also a business decision to attract and retain riders.

    Third, and most importantly to me, is the notion that we are spending money just on transit riders who only take the train in for events on a couple occasions a year at the expense of the rest of the system. I believe we need to do both and I have demonstrated a commitment to do both. Over the last year and continuing into the next two years we at Met Council will have authorized over $7 million in station improvements, shelter upgrades, and other enhancements to our transit system. Is it enough? No. We still need to do more but we have made investments that are unprecedented in our regular route system. With a robust transportation bill this legislative session, we will continue to have to do both and prioritize between shelters, larger transit centers around the region, park-and-ride upgrades, bus fleet modernization, our own facilities needs, and so forth.

    I will reiterate that the primary reason this has always been a concern from Metro Transit is safety. There is a lot of pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic at this intersection today and many operators and supervisors have said to me that they are concerned today with this intersection. Constructing a bridge will not eliminate the safety concern, but it will dramatically improve the intersection.

    One of the reasons that the state and region made the decision to locate the stadium in Minneapolis and not somewhere outside of downtown was to take advantage of the existing infrastructure. That infrastructure was not completely suited for the capacity that will be stretched both on football game days as well as other event days too. It’s important to keep in mind that as we (hopefully) build out the Green and Blue Line extensions, this station will be a critical connecting point in the region. Last month there were over 100,000 boardings on the Blue and Green Lines. This number will continue as redevelopment continues to occur in this neighborhood and the safety concerns will continue.

    Another concern I have heard, which I am sympathetic to, is that the current design could be improved. I had a conversation with one of my Council Members and said we are asking the staff to do the impossible. Design a state-of-the-art bridge while also keeping the costs down. How do we manage those priorities and expectations? That will likely be part of the discussion you hear from the council at Committee of the Whole and the full council meeting in the coming weeks.

    Lastly, another question that is asked which is difficult to answer is, ‘why should the Council be on the hook to pay for this? It is a good question. Would we all be happier if this improvement was in the Central Corridor budget or the stadium project budget — yes. However, if we are to plan for future development as well as to accommodate the numerous events at the stadium, I would arguethat it isn’t perfect, but it is a necessary investment.