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.
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:
Greenway is closed at 15th. We were not notified, but working with Centerpoint to get access back. Detour is poor and not advised; recommend alternate routes.— Midtown Greenway (@midtowngreenway) July 23, 2019
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”:
We apologize for the inconvenience as we continue to work on our pipeline replacement project that includes crossing the Greenway. We anticipate that the affected Greenway area will be repaved and opened to pedestrian and bike traffic by noon tomorrow, August 2nd. Thank you.— CenterPoint Energy (@CenterPoint) August 1, 2019
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:
Could you please provide an explanation as to why this project was conducted the way it was? Specifically:— Ian Young (@iangreenleaf) August 2, 2019
1. Why was no advance notice provided to @midtowngreenway?
2. Why was a detour not properly marked?
3. Why has the completion date been pushed back repeatedly?
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?