Why did Centerpoint Energy Close the Greenway for 10 Days?

On July 23rd, Centerpoint Energy closed the Midtown Greenway without providing any advance notice to the users of the trail. No signage was put in place in advance of the closure, and they did not notify the Midtown Greenway Coalition. They simply erected barricades and ripped up the trail.

Barricades blocking the construction zone on the Midtown Greenway

The detour provisions provided were wholly inadequate. The detour was not signed well enough to follow, and apparently the intended route was not a good one anyways. The Greenway Coalition put out this very terse message on the day of the closure:

Centerpoint originally promised to reopen the trail by July 27th. They did open it for the Greenway Glow festival that evening, but was closed again the following week. They then promised to reopen it by August 1st, then that slipped to August 2nd. The explanation offered for the closure was a “pipeline replacement project”:

The trail was finally reopened on the afternoon of the 2nd, hours before the start of Powderhorn 24, an event that had been scheduled on that section of trail a long time in advance.

I have reached out to Centerpoint several times requesting an explanation for the closure:

I have tried several channels and have not received any response. At this point, it seems likely that I will not.

So why did this happen? Well, the most basic explanation is that Centerpoint bungled it, badly. It appears that they failed to do any advance planning, or to consider that a closure of a major bicycle and pedestrian route might affect people. But the City of Minneapolis also signed off on this project, and had city officials asked any questions about Centerpoint’s plans, they ought to have noticed very quickly that Centerpoint was not adequately prepared. Either the city failed to conduct any diligence before approving the closure, or they simply didn’t care.

Unless Centerpoint deigns to make a public statement, most of the questions surrounding this incident may go unanswered. Instead, perhaps we should ask the more important question: will anyone do better the next time?

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13 Responses to Why did Centerpoint Energy Close the Greenway for 10 Days?

  1. ianrbuck August 14, 2019 at 9:49 am #

    Oof, yeah, that was a bad one. I got caught by the closure one evening and tried to follow the detour. When I got several blocks south of Lake St and hadn’t seen any signs in a while, I just have up and followed Lake east.

    • Ian Young August 14, 2019 at 3:41 pm #

      This was my experience too. Seems like they just put out a sign at the beginning and then expected you to magically intuit the rest of the detour route. Everyone who did find the marked route said it was bad, so at least you weren’t missing much!

      • Christa Moseng
        Christa Moseng August 16, 2019 at 11:40 am #

        One of the detour signs pointed South incorrectly both times the detour was posted and for the duration.

        Almost like they didn’t particularly care!

  2. Jake N August 14, 2019 at 9:52 am #

    The cavalier attitude that major trails are treated with gets my blood boiling… Especially this year..

    These are transportation corridors, they should be treated as such…

  3. Serafina Scheel
    Serafina Scheel August 14, 2019 at 10:19 am #

    First the Dinkytown Greenway is suddenly closed for the summer with no advance notice, and then this. It’s been a distressing summer for navigating the city on bike.

    • Patti Rogness August 14, 2019 at 3:10 pm #


    • Ian Young August 14, 2019 at 3:40 pm #

      Oof, I didn’t even hear about that one. Not to mention the multiple previous Greenway closures and the start of multi-year closures on Cedar Lake and Kenilworth. It’s frustrating to live in a city with first-class bike infrastructure than nobody can use.

  4. Alex August 14, 2019 at 10:52 am #

    If only the city had some sort of “bike & pedestrian coordinator” who could look into massive fails like these & propose procedures to prevent it from happening again…

    Also, Centerpoint has a franchise agreement with the city that is renewed periodically. Next time the city could slip in some language requiring advance notice, better detours, etc, for non-emergency closures. Call your councilmember.

  5. Beth Evanson Makhoul August 14, 2019 at 11:36 am #

    Thanks for digging into this and pursuing answers. Agreed; the question is, “how will this be avoided in the future?”

  6. Bill Dooley August 14, 2019 at 11:48 am #

    This will continue to happen as long as utility company executives, workers and city departments are staffed by folks who do not bicycle for transportation and have no concept what bicycle infrastructure is or should do.

  7. Matt Steele
    Matt August 14, 2019 at 12:10 pm #

    A large section of Minnehaha Creek bikeway near Bloomington Ave was roped off this morning for tree removal, presumably by MPRB. There was no advance warning, no detour signage, and lots of bicyclists had to ride across grass and then in the parkway.

  8. Elsa August 14, 2019 at 12:57 pm #

    The detour was definitely inadequate—up on 29th avenue, and for a half block or so, only about a three-foot path for bikes to get past construction equipment. People going eastbound had to stop and wait for those going westbound and it was pretty frustrating for those of us (ahem) who were running a little late already.

    Coordination with the Greenway Coalition would probably have improved many things about this closure.

  9. Nicole Salica
    Nicole Salica August 15, 2019 at 11:02 pm #

    My top-ranked Most Frustrating Thing about this is how I can’t do anything about it. If it was a regular business, I could make a big stink about it and get people to switch, e.g. cell phone providers, or banks, or juice brands. I can’t boycott their products because uhh complicated utility reasons. So I guess we just suck it up and do nothing! Yay.

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