Withering Glance: Design missteps on ramps and roads

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 25, 2014 - 2:07 PM

In the center, The Nic on Fifth Apartments, a 26-story luxury rental high rise. In the foreground workers clear a lot for a new Xcel Energy Headquarters.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.


CP: When it comes to livable cities and urban design, I think of you as one part Jane Jacobs, two parts Barbara Flanagan.


RN: That’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. Thank you.


CP: Is it safe to say that you’re a freeway-hatin’ tree lover?


RN: I believe the term is tree hugger. Every time I visit Duluth, my love/hate relationship with Interstate 35 grows ever stronger. Love because of the way several portions are routed through tunnels covered by green space, and hate because, really, an expressway alongside the world’s largest freshwater lake?


CP: Hey, we have to get to the North Shore somehow, and we ain’t got all day. Closer to home, what’s been putting your undies in a bundle of late?


RN: I routinely twist my boxer briefs over the ugly elevated on- and off-ramps leading to and from I-94 on the north side of downtown Minneapolis. They run for what feels like a mile and cut the North Loop off from the rest of the city. Is MnDOT unfamiliar with the word boulevard?


CP: There are plenty of pricey condos over there. Their balconies provide unparalleled views of passing motorists near at hand, and our Emerald City in the distance.


RN: I’m sure they’d prefer a civilizing tree-lined thoroughfare over an obnoxious second-story concrete ribbon. Who knows? A lovely new promenade might encourage even more upscale domiciles. I can already hear the ka-ching of the property-tax coffers. What’s burning your eyes these days?


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