Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Extend the Greenway Partnership commissions bridge study

Posted on 27 August 2018 by calvin

By MARGIE O’LOUGHLIN
The Midtown Greenway is a 5-1/2 mile long bicycle and pedestrian trail through the heart of South Minneapolis. The trail begins near Lake Calhoun at Chowen Ave., and travels east across the city. It currently ends at W. River Pkwy. near 27th St. in the north Longfellow neighborhood. More than 35 organizations from both Minneapolis and St. Paul are working together in the newly formed Extend the Greenway Partnership. Their goal is to extend the Midtown Greenway over the Mississippi River and through St. Paul.

Photo right: The Short Line Railroad Bridge as seen from the beach near 27th St. and W. River Pkwy. The question being asked in the engineering study currently underway is, “What would it take to make this bridge safe for public use, as an extension of the Midtown Greenway into St. Paul?” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The extension of the Greenway would convert the Short Line Railroad Bridge (just north of 27th St.) into a bicycle and pedestrian bridge. Up for consideration is whether or not the train would continue to use the railroad tracks. CP Rail owns and operates the bridge; it runs one train per day there, on average, and serves three remaining customers along the Hiawatha Ave. corridor.

Soren Jensen, executive director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, said, “We’re pleased to report that a drone we hired to begin our engineering study of the Short Line Railroad Bridge was launched in late July. Information captured by the drone will be used to create a 3-D map of the bridge. Engineers from the local firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. will complete the study, estimating the cost and efforts needed to make the bridge safe for biking and walking. We anticipate that the study will be finished in late summer.”

“I’ve been with the Midtown Greenway Coalition for seven years,” Jensen continued, “and the question I get asked most frequently is, ‘Why doesn’t the Greenway cross over into St. Paul?’

Jensen provides the answer, “Apparently, when the final stage of the Greenway was completed ten years ago (the section that runs through Seward and Longfellow), Hennepin County commissioned an engineering study of the bridge. They determined that it had structural flaws, but they didn’t estimate what it would cost to make the bridge safe for public use. There are many of us who thought it warranted another look. We believe this extension would benefit a lot of people because the Greenway is a major commuter corridor. It would be a tremendous addition to the Twin Cities biking infrastructure.”

Jensen concluded, “We didn’t want this to be just an effort of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, so we built a solid partnership of organizations across both sides of the river. Our partners reached out to all of their members and supporters on social media with the details of this project. We ran a crowd-funding campaign for one month, with a goal of raising $45,000 to hire two drones and an operator, and to use the expertise of Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. to conduct the engineering study. Thanks to the reach of our partner organizations, we exceeded our goal and raised $47,000. Some of our partners in (or very near) Longfellow include The Birchwood Café, Brackett Neighbors, Hiawatha Academies, the Longfellow Community Council, Seward Re-Design, and Nice Ride Minnesota.”

All organizations who share this vision are welcome to join the Extend the Greenway Partnership. The partnership seeks to include elected officials, government agencies, neighborhood groups, non-profits, and businesses from both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

For more information or to join the partnership, email Soren Jensen at soren@midtowngreenway.org. Check the website at www.midtowngreenway.org to learn the date and location of the next public meeting in September. The results of the engineering study will be discussed at that time.

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