Could Interstate Lids Unify University Neighborhoods? writer Chris Iverson did an op-ed in the Minnesota Daily and appeared on the Daily Circuit this week: Could interstate lids unify University neighborhoods?:

Duluth Freeway Cap

Duluth Freeway Cap


Constructing interstate lids over I-35W would better connect the Dinkytown and Marcy Holmes neighborhoods near the University of Minnesota, says a Minnesota Daily columnist.

Chris Iverson, senior in civil engineering and urban studies at the University, says the features would make the freeways less of a divider between the areas and make it easier for pedestrians to get from one to the other.

Instead of replacing an ordinary bridge with another simple bridge, the city could create space along each side of the road to hold retail or park space. Instead of just building a bridge deck to hold road traffic, we could extend the deck outward over the interstate. Interstate caps are supposed to make a traveler feel like they are not actually crossing over a busy highway but are instead still in the city landscape.

This may seem like an idealistic and unrealistic goal, but these highway caps exist and thrive in other areas around the country. The first highway cap ever built is in Seattle. Seattleites built Freeway Park in 1976 to help mend two divided sections of downtown Seattle.

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17 Responses to Could Interstate Lids Unify University Neighborhoods?

  1. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke February 22, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Cool. Post a link when the MPR piece gets put up online!

    • Chris Iverson
      Chris Iverson February 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      The radio interview is in the MPR link at the top of this article!

  2. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson February 22, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    There are some fantastic candidates for capping in Minneapolis, I hope at least one can get attention where some momentum happens. I have a quite a dream list.

  3. Adam Miller
    Adam February 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Yes, please. Also 94 around Nicollet and near the Capitol. These freeways are already in a trench, so just cover them.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke February 22, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

      Near the Capitol! And beneath the JJ Hill house.

  4. Justin H February 22, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    The Metropolitan Design Center at the UofMN did a long term research project on just this type of project, but also looked at other areas in the city. The report is here:

    (My wife worked on this project)

  5. minneapolisite February 22, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    These are an excellent chance to add retail to the neighborhood without tearing down existing businesses at the heart of Dinkytown. We shouldn’t settle for dead lonely parks for all highway caps and call that a success. I lived in Columbus and I remember crossing this bridge before and after the (retail) cap was built. Every time I cross Nicollet south of 15th it reminds of my walks on the before version of the highway bridge below. It cost under $8 million to add an extra lively block to an already lively district.

    • Chris Iverson
      Chris Iverson February 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

      Matt Brillhart, Andrew Degerstrom and I did a school project on this based from the Cap in Colombus two years ago. We put the cap on Nicollet Avenue over Interstate 94 and developed the vacant lot next to it. It was definitely a blast and something I (we) would love to see when (if) the streetcar gets built.

  6. Froggie February 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    There’s also the article I wrote on a lid between the Green Line and Washington Ave:

  7. Walker Angell
    Walker February 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

    There’s a mostly park based lid in Duluth that seems to have worked well. I’d love to see 94 buried where it goes through St. Paul. Maybe Kellogg as well. 35E next and then maybe part of Shepard Rd. Actually an entire sub freeway in the metro might not be so bad. Are there parts of 94 between the cities we really want above ground? Perhaps 35E from north of 694 to south of 494?

  8. Eric Saathoff
    Eric S February 23, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    This sounds expensive if it’s not usable for retail to help pay back the costs. The pictures from Columbus are awesome.

    Walker’s idea sounds a bit far-fetched, but it could help simplify snow removal!

    • Walker Angell
      Walker Angell February 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      If the Brits and French can tunnel under the channel, we can cut & cover from Woodbury to St Louis Park. 🙂

  9. Cameron Conway
    Cameron Conway February 24, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    I could honestly get behind any freeway lid project, although I’m not sure this is the one to start. One of the somewhat underwhelming aspects of Seattle’s Freeway Park is that it doesn’t connect any truly active public spaces. It’s near-ish to several dynamic retail streets, but really doesn’t get the Steinbrueck Park/Pike Place Market duplicative effect. Due to its prohibitive cost and inaccessibility (I’m still not even sure how to get there), I’m not sure I’d call it a great park.

    I have similar worries about this 35W lid, which doesn’t really lie adjacent to any active public space. As far as activity-center-proximal real estate, I’d definitely put a lid over the Dinkytown Greenway. While that’d definitely diminish the experience of that trail, the retail footprint of Dinkytown could be effectively doubled. Heck, you could also do some sweet stained glass business for the Greenway folks below 🙂 Possibilities!

  10. Jessica Schaum February 25, 2014 at 8:12 am #

    We totally had to do this as a project at the HHH. Hopefully students are still working through all the issues in retrofitting/creating land bridges and get jobs in places where they can at least suggest them as an option…


  1. Making I-94 Better: Or Toward 3-D Urbanism | - March 24, 2014

    […] The solution I still like best is Air Rights / Land Bridges / Freeway Caps. […]

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