What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to baird.helgeson@startribune.com.

Minneapolis kicks off road construction season

Posted by: under Local business, Politics and government, Public safety, Urban living Updated: April 14, 2015 - 2:22 PM

By Jessica Lee

Star Tribune

The city of Minneapolis is embarking on a busy road construction season, rebuilding, repaving or sealing more than 50 miles of roadway.

With Minnesota Vikings stadium construction and other projects underway, downtown Minneapolis will be the focus of much of the roadwork.

Along with street reconstruction and resurfacing work, utility crews will be working on underground lines and mains, city officials say.

The city has mapped downtown street projects to help motorists navigate the area during the construction season.

Maps are available here.

Here are some details by the city:

2015 street construction by the numbers

Resurfacing projects               30.38 miles
Reconstruction projects          3.28 miles
Seal coating projects              20.20 miles
Total                                       53.86 miles

2015 street construction at a glance

Downtown projects – There will be a lot of construction on downtown streets this season. In many cases, the work is being performed by utilities working on buried lines.

Nicollet Mall – The entire mall will soon be reconstructed. Before that work gets underway, crews will be updating utility lines beneath the roadway.

6th Street south – This project, led by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, is converting 6th Street to two-way traffic from 11th Avenue South to Park Avenue. 

LaSalle Avenue  – Starting in April, crews will reconstruct LaSalle Avenue from Eighth Street to 12th Street South.

Hennepin-Lyndale corridor– The Minnesota Department of Transportation will redeck bridges that connect the Hennepin-Lyndale corridor to Interstate 94 and Interstate 394. City crews will also be replacing and renovating a sanitary sewer line located alongside the Lowry Hill Tunnel and underneath the Loring Bike Trail in preparation for the roadway work next year, when the corridor itself will be reconstructed.

Other major street projects:


26th Avenue North – The two-year project involves improving the entire length of this North Side street. Two sections of 26th Avenue will be renovated this year: one from Theodore Wirth Parkway to West Broadway Avenue, and the other from Lyndale Avenue North to Second Street North.

Minnehaha Avenue/Nawadaha Boulevard – This is another two-year project. The work, led by Hennepin County, will involve reconstructing Minnehaha Avenue from 38th Street East to Nawadaha Boulevard this year, and from Lake Street to 38th Street East next year. 

Minnehaha Avenue – Separate from the County-led project, the City of Minneapolis will be reconstructing a two-block section of Minnehaha Avenue, between 24th Street East and 26th Street East.

Eighth Street SE – The roadway will be reconstructed east of 15th Avenue SE to the dead end. 
24th Street East and Snelling Avenue – This fall, crews will reconstruct Snelling Avenue between 22nd Street East and 24th Street East. One block of 24th Street will also be reconstructed. Before that street work begins, A storm surge chamber will be added to eliminate storm water geysers in the area. 

Street resurfacing – More than 30 miles of City streets will be resurfaced throughout Minneapolis this season including 29 miles in the Powderhorn West and Penn/McKinley neighborhoods. 

St. Anthony Parkway Bridge – Crews will begin dismantling and replacing the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge, which spans a rail yard in Northeast Minneapolis.   

Burnham Road Bridge – Deck support structure will be reconstructed on this bridge in the Cedar-Isles-Dean neighborhood.

11th Avenue South Bridge – Crews will repair and resurface this bridge, which crosses 4th Street South in Downtown East.

Seal coating – Streets that are in good shape can be seal coated to prolong the life of the driving surface. City crews plan to sealcoat more than 20 miles of roadway in Minneapolis.

Parkways – Public Works and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board collaborate regarding pavement management, and maintenance and construction of the parkway system.  A little more than a mile of roadway on Cedar Lake Parkway and West River Parkway will be resurfaced by City crews in 2015, and another 2.14 miles will be seal coated.

Jessica Lee is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.

Authorities identify woman found fatally shot in south Minneapolis

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: April 13, 2015 - 11:48 PM

Authorities have identified the woman who was found shot and mortally wounded Saturday afternoon in south Minneapolis as 21-year-old Ayan Abdi Abdulahi.

Abdulahi, of Bloomington, died of a single gunshot wound to the head, the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said in a news release Sunday night. She was found sometime after 2 p.m. by officers responding to a shots fired call at a duplex on the 2400 block of Portland Avenue.

Neighbors said a resident came upon the body after he awoke from a nap and called police. Abdulahi was pronounced dead at the scene.

The killing was the city’s seventh homicide of the year. No arrest has been made.

Police have not offered a motive for the slaying, but neighbors and a person familiar with the investigation said it stemmed from a domestic dispute.

Police investigating 'suspicious death' in Mpls. Willard-Hay neighborhood

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: April 13, 2015 - 11:06 PM

Minneapolis homicide detectives are investigating what police termed a “suspicious death” that occurred Monday afternoon in the Willard-Hay neighborhood.

Officers were summoned shortly after 2 p.m. to the 2300 block of Russell Avenue North, where they found a man slumped over inside a vehicle, said police spokesman John Elder. The man, whose identity wasn't immediately released, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Elder said the cause and manner of death would be determined by the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office, but a source with knowledge of the investigation said that police were treating the death as a homicide.

The death capped a bloody week in Minneapolis with three homicides and numerous non-fatal shootings.

Report: Minneapolis police rarely justify stop-and-frisks

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: April 15, 2015 - 1:30 AM

A Minneapolis cop frisks a teenager in the Philips neighborhood in 1998. MIKE ZERBY/Star Tribune

A review of recent stop-and-frisk encounters between Minneapolis police and citizens found that officers rarely gave reasons for stopping and searching people without arresting them, according to a new report by the Police Conduct Oversight Commission.

The study, whose findings will be presented at the PCOC’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, comes amid growing criticism of the practice, in which officers stop people they reasonably believe are committing or about to commit a crime. Critics say the practice disproportionately targets ethnic minorities.

The PCOC, which investigates misconduct complaints against police, found that officers “did not document any information about the stop other than what was automatically generated or required to close the call” in 26 percent of stop-and-frisk encounters (otherwise known as Terry stops), and that even those stops and searches where they provided some details “often what was documented was not the reason for the stop or a description of the outcome.”

It further concluded:

“ ...many of the officer initiated stops located in this study involving loitering did not document information using the criteria established on the MPD website, city ordinance, or Emergency Communications order. While this does not indicate that officers did not have reasonable suspicion (or probable cause) to justify their actions, the lack of documentation is notable.”

The report examined 385 of the 28,304 suspicious person stops from last year, where the stop wasn’t initiated by a 911 call and didn’t end in arrest.

The recommendations outlined in its 30 pages included “resolving any existing barriers” to documenting search-and-frisk encounters and clarifying the department’s policy on such stops. Teresa Nelson, an attorney for the Minnesota chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said she agreed with the report's recommendations urging police to report more data from stop-and-frisk encounters.

"We very quickly discovered that they don't systematically collect it, so I think this report kind of confirms that," Nelson said last week. "We would want more systematic reporting race and analysis."

As an example, she pointed to several police departments across the country, including Newark, which have started collecting demographic data – age, gender, race, sexual orientation and English proficiency – from suspicious persons stops.

"It's important to know what is happening in the department," she said. "For example, this minimal study led to a conclusion that we need to reinforce the training and make it more clear when it’s OK to stop people."

The report, in full:

wcms1p-Investigatory Stop Documentation Review

Top MPD official eyeing UMPD chief job

Posted by: Libor Jany under Public safety Updated: April 11, 2015 - 8:54 AM

Assistant Minneapolis police chief Matt Clark addressed reporters. JIM GEHRZ/Star Tribune

Matt Clark, assistant chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, is one of two finalists to lead the University of Minnesota police force after a months-long search to replace the retiring Greg Hestness.

If he is offered and accepts the U job, Clark would take over for Hestness, a longtime Minneapolis cop who rose to the rank of deputy chief, who is retiring in June after 11 years on the job, according to school officials. Hestness also serves as the university’s assistant vice president for public safety.

The other finalist to replace him is Colleen Luna, commander of the St. Paul Police Department's Property Crimes Unit.

Clark was appointed assistant chief by Chief Janeé Harteau shortly after she took the job in 2012, taking over day-to-day operations of the state’s largest police department.

A former volunteer firefighter, he joined the department in 1993 and rose through the ranks, making sergeant in 1999 and then lieutenant in 2007. At the time of his appointment, he commanded the 5th Precinct in southwest Minneapolis.

Last year, Clark was offered the police chief job in Bellevue, Wash., but he turned it down.

In a presentation to U officials last month, Clark touted his record in community building and said he would focus on protecting students on and off campus, the Minnesota Daily reported.

“Everybody’s from somewhere; everybody’s got a story,” he said, the student newspaper reported,“and that adds to the culture of the city of Minneapolis, but it also adds to the culture of the University.”

His departure would make him the third member of Harteau’s original senior staff to leave or be demoted in the last year.

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