Hey! We’re hosting another virtual happy hour tonight, from 6 to 8pm. Our special guest tonight will be Adam Froehlig, who is going to share some of his fascinating research on local freeway history around 7. If you like, you can ask all those burning questions you’ve been harboring about Interstate 335, the Midtown Greenway freeway, the Cedar Avenue highway, or (god forbid) Ayd Mill Road.
Here’s the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89854983912
See you then.
In the meantime, gaze upon all the fun freeways we could have built in Minneapolis.
Interesting subject… I will try to tune in but will probably have to miss the main presentation. Will a recording of this session be available later?
One bit of history I had heard was that I-35W was originally planned to run up Lyndale Avenue from Crosstown to where the I-94 Lowry Hill Tunnel is today. That is why there is the freeway-type connection straight north of the Crosstown intersection to Hwy. 121/Lyndale… but then I-35W was moved to an area of lesser resistance, where it goes now (just east of Nicollet). If that was the case, it is hard to imagine all the lost businesses along Lyndale and how the interchange at the tunnel area would have looked, but we would not have had the much-maligned “Crosstown Commons”. I checked the I-35W webpage by tonight’s presenter but it is not included in the history (this particular website, btw, has not been updated for 12 years so it doesn’t contain a lot of recent developments).
It is also hard to imagine what the other planned freeways/expressways around Minneapolis would have done to the city’s urban landscape. I had a friend who lost his house along Hiawatha Ave. when the state bought up a lot of adjacent properties for the proposed freeway (but remained vacant until the LRT Blue Line came along). And I think the weird long-curving jog of I-35W north of downtown had to do with the potential connection to what would have been I-335 (and maybe that Central/MN 65 idea).
As best as I’ve been able to find in my research, that bit about 35W “originally planned” to go up Lyndale is urban legend. Everything I’ve seen, going back to the early ’50s, has what became 35W more or less along its current alignment, although there were some changes made at both ends…namely the jog to the east north of Lake St (early plans had it between 2nd and Stevens all the way to 94) and what became the infamous Crosstown Commons (originally would have diagonaled north of Crosstown).
The “freeway-type” spur north of Crosstown connecting to Lyndale dates to when it was planned simply as a Richfield/Bloomington bypass for Highway 65 which in the pre-Interstate era ran along Lyndale.
Apologies on the lack of website updates….I’ve retained the website for historical purposes but just haven’t had the time, energy, or motivation to update it.
Update: I did find something dated 1957 that had two alignment alternatives to I-35W through south Minneapolis. One was generally along Cedar Ave (unclear whether it was the block to the east of to the west). The other was close to Lyndale but not ON Lyndale…it would have used the block between Aldrich and Bryant.
Thanks for digging further, Adam. It seems I first heard about the Lyndale corridor possibility way back in the early ’80s and the 121/Lyndale design seemed to fit if they had decided to keep I-35W going straight north.
Growing up and heading northwest out of the city up to the cabin, we always used Hwy. 100 — the Beltline or Lilac Way as it was also known — and it seemed like it was at the edge of the metro. I also remember riding on one of the earliest interstate segments — the short stretch just north of Owatonna/Medford when we drove up from Iowa. It was kind of an exciting thing to look forward to in an-otherwise fairly mundane (for a kid) trip.
As it turns out, another viewer on the Zoom call this evening also mentioned that Lyndale was the “original alignment” for I-35W and said there’s documentation on this. I don’t recall his name, but he said he’d get me the references.
Hi Adam… yes, I did view most of your presentation last night but I was multi-tasking so didn’t comment or chime in. But I was impressed, you knew a lot about the history and the current geography of the Twin Cities and Minnesota as well (pretty good for being sequestered in the wild Northwoods of New England). The person who talked about the Lyndale I-35W was, I think, Tom Keane (?). It would be interesting if he can provide more documentation on that, as I sure do remember thinking as such from the early ’80s. I lived in St. Paul during the I-35E controversy and knew some of the “players” although I wasn’t actively involved. I think they were almost able to kiil the whole project or at least delay it significantly until the compromise of no trucks and lower speed and the parkway landscaping was negotiated. A lot of the other projects you mentioned I remember fairly well as they were constructed and filled in gaps in the freeway system, so a lot of people were excited (like I-394, and I-94 east to Hudson).
Dave, thank you. Despite my current location, I’ve kept tabs on things over the years. Grew up in south Minneapolis within hearing range of the Crosstown (and the airport) and most of my family is still in Minnesota.