Call for Action on the Bottleneck

mpls hennepin united church

Nice view of the Hennepin United Methodist Church.

We’ve been having a lot of talk on this site about the Lyndale-Hennepin Bottleneck, the potentially amazing but actually crappy intersection between Loring Park, the Walker Art Center, Downtown and Uptown, and directly over I-94.

Brendon penned a call to arms pointing us to this problem over two years ago (!). Scott took depressing photos of the actual “empty bowl” spaces just north of the bottleneck in April. Joe offered a rather brilliant design solution for the terrible onramp bridges that erode its potential space in April. Sam talked about its “moat-like” qualities back in March. I put up some photos of what the space used to look like. And Nick looked specifically at the Walker earlier this month.

Clearly, there’s no bottleneck of bottleneck coverage here at [Groan.]

It seems like somebody is listening. Yesterday a group of  seemingly influential people offered a press release about a “shared stakeholder vision for the Hennepin-Lyndale project.” It embodies a great many of the design ideals that we’ve discussed here on the site.

I’m just going to attach the whole thing. Feel free to share your thoughts.

June 24, 2014

To: Mayor Betsy Hodges, Council Member Lisa Goodman, Council Member Lisa Bender, Council Member Kevin Reich, Commissioner Anita Tabb, Commissioner Marion Greene, Commissioner Charlie Zelle, Senator Scott Dibble, Representative Frank Hornstein, Steve Kotke, Don Elwood, Ole Mersinger, Jessica Laabs, Beverly A.B. Farraher

RE: Shared Stakeholder Vision for Hennepin-Lyndale Project

Dear elected officials and Hennepin-Lyndale Reconstruction Project team,

The forthcoming Hennepin-Lyndale reconstruction project is a tremendous opportunity for Minneapolis, local neighborhoods, and local institutions. We have formed a community task force of diverse interests to help support this opportunity. This letter articulates the shared vision our various institutional stakeholders for this project based on a meeting held on June 11th. We recognize that project consultants and staff are working to hone options for the project and we hope this vision can help inform and support that work.


  • Hennepin-Lyndale contributes to a must-see green corridor that reconnects the Walker 
Art Center (Walker) and adjacent neighborhoods and institutions with Loring Park, 
Nicollet Mall, and Hennepin Avenue downtown.
  • Hennepin-Lyndale is a safe and attractive place to walk, bike, and take transit.
  • Hennepin-Lyndale is a positive gateway to Downtown and the rest of Minneapolis.


Current Challenges

Currently Hennepin-Lyndale is a physical and visual barrier that divides the Walker, Lowry Hill, and Uptown from Loring Park and Downtown. It can take more than four minutes and several traffic signals to legally walk across the street at Vineland/Oak Grove. The beautiful green spaces on either side of the street are divided by space that is unwelcoming and unsafe. The broad freeway-style scale of the street leads to speeding traffic rather than creating a place that is core to the arts, culture, and community of Minneapolis.

Currently Hennepin-Lyndale has a number of pedestrian and bicycle safety concerns, including the shared bike-walk space between Groveland and Oak Grove, long crossing distances, intersections with too many crashes, and transit stops that are unsafe and unattractive. There is also a lack of a buffer between the walking and biking areas along the street.


High-Level Opportunities

Previous community work–including the Downtown Council’s Downtown 2025 Plan, the Loring Park Neighborhood Master Plan, and a 2008 Hennepin-Lyndale Civic Corridor Design Charrette–provide a number of great ideas that we hope to see incorporated in to the reconstruction project. It is also a tremendous opportunity that the Walker and the Park Board are planning to reconstruct the Sculpture Garden in 2015 and that the Walker is improving the design of its Vineland Place entrance as well as the green space on the west and east sides of the Art Center. We hope that project staff will pro-actively work with the Walker and Park Board to integrate design elements and maximize the benefits of the shared timing of these improvements.

Some high-level ideas that contribute to our vision include:

  • Reducing pedestrian crossing distances and providing more space for greening by 
reducing the number of lanes as feasible and reducing lane widths;
  • Improving crossings at Groveland Terrace/Groveland Avenue and at Vineland/Oak 
Grove Street by providing ‘pedestrian zone’ cues to drivers such as colored concrete, and bold and wide striping, larger islands and better walk signal timing.
  • Changing the scale of the street from a freeway zone to a neighborhood zone;
  • Creating a “Grand Terrace” at Vineland Place/Oak Grove that includes adding, 
enhancing, and better maintaining green space and possibly incorporating public art 
into the design;
  • Incorporating green buffers for the sidewalk and bikeway along the length of the project; and
  • Coordinating with MnDOT on enhancing the fencing and greening around the I-94 tunnel embankments and the pedestrian realm at the Dunwoody and Hennepin underpass.
  • Contributing to a more extensive active, green connection from the Mississippi River to the Walker Art Center and beyond as articulated in the concept design by James Corner Field Operations for reconstructing Nicollet Mall. 
We look forward to working with you further as the details of traffic studies and design concepts are finalized. We are encouraged to hear that a variety of options will be presented at the second public meeting. If you have any questions, you can contact us through Craig Wilson (representing Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association) or John Van Heel (representing Citizens for a Loring Park Community).



Lowry Hill Neighborhood Association Phillip Hallaway, LHNA President

Walker Art Center David Galligan, WAC Deputy Director, COO

Citizens for a Loring Park Community Christopher Hoffer, CLPC President

St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral Mary Pagnucco, St. Mark’s Representative

Hennepin Ave. United Methodist Church Keith Sjoquist, HAUMC Representative

Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition Ethan Fawley, Executive Director

510 Groveland Barbara Slade, 510 Groveland Representative

Minneapolis Downtown Council Ben Shardlow, Downtown Council Representative

Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee Jenny Edwards, MPAC Representative

The Groveland Condominiums Tom Fidam, President


Christopher Sanders, CLPC Board representative

Janis Clay, LHNA board representative

Adam Moore, CLPC Board representative

Siri Engberg, Walker Art Center representative

Dan Aronson, LHNA board representative

Janet Hallaway, The Bridge for Youth/LHNA representative

Janne Flisrand, LHNA representative

Cedar Phillips, LHNA representative

Mark Nelson, CLPC board representative

Joe Polacek, CLPC guest representative, Stevens Square resident

David Goldstein, Walker Art Center representative

Dylan Cole, Walker Art Center representative

Scott Engel, Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee representative

Neil Reardon, CLPC representative

Craig Wilson, LHNA board representative

John Van Heel, CLPC board representative


Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.