Minneapolis has a number of great trails and on-street bikeways, but it currently lacks a direct and safe north-south route through the city for bikes and pedestrians. For the past few months, a local group of community members, nonprofits, and neighborhood associations have been discussing the possibility of building that north-south connection in the form of the Southside Greenway. With help from a Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) grant, the group formed as the Southside Greenway Exploratory Committee in the summer of 2015 and recently released their preliminary report analyzing initial neighborhood reactions to the concept, a potential route, and possible greenway designs.
The Greenway has the potential to connect 12 parks and trails from Downtown to South Minneapolis, including Gold Medal Park, Powderhorn Park, and the Midtown Greenway. The Southside Greenway would be a gateway for safe bike and pedestrian travel, and connect communities along the route.
The proposed route would begin as far north as Gold Medal Park in downtown Minneapolis and travel south all the way to Highway 62. While there is no single planned design for the entire length of the Greenway, all sections will include some sort of traffic calming and greening, dependent on community preferences. Some sections could also include protected bike lanes or undergo complete street-to-park conversion.
The design would reflect each area’s allowances and restrictions. For instance, on streets that currently have heavier traffic, bike and pedestrian space would be created with protected bike lanes, using either planters or bollards. In more heavily residential areas, a street-to-park conversion may be considered, which, in addition to sidewalks and a bike lane, would maximize the amount of green space on a block.
In the summer of 2015 surveys were created to gauge neighborhood interest for the potential project, distributed and collected by local cultural organizations, and analyzed by members of the Southside Greenway Exploratory Committee.
A total of 162 surveys in English or Spanish were completed and returned. The results were representative of different neighborhoods and cultural organizations, and the overall survey response was overwhelmingly in favor of the project.
At this point, this project is not being pursued by the City of Minneapolis and has no funding allocated to it. According to the report, “This process is about discerning together whether this is something that would have enough community support to advocate for planning and construction funding.” The Exploratory Committee has suggested three follow-up actions to the survey:
- Establish a Southside Greenway Council
- Review the route with public agency staff and key stakeholders
- Install a one-year pilot program on 4-5 blocks of the proposed route, location dictated by the community
The surveys are a good indication that the project would have strong support in the neighborhood, and they help set the tone as the project continues to move forward.
If you would like to get involved in the Southside Greenway Exploratory Committee, attend the first of four quarterly meetings on January 20th. If you cannot attend this meeting, the next one will be on April 20th.