The Hiawatha LRT Trail is likely to have new lights by the end of the year, six years after a series of robberies on the Minneapolis bike trail and the connecting Midtown Greenway.
The City Council is expected to approve the $600,000 project in August. The plan is to install lights every 95 feet in unlit areas of the trail, which parallels the Blue Line. The area to get the new lighting is between 11th Avenue S. on the eastern edge of downtown and E. 26th Street in the Seward neighborhood.
The lights will cost about 33 percent less than the engineer's estimate, according to a city memo. That partly reflects the presence of several lights already installed near the Metro Transit operations center and the earlier installation of lights south of 26th when the Sabo bridge for the greenway that was built.
The new lights will be higher efficiency LED lights, which use 50 percent less energy than high-pressure sodium lights. Existing lights on the trail will be retrofitted to LED as part of the project. They will be designed to cast light in an oval pattern, said Allan Klugman, a city engineer.
The two trails were the site of at least 10 attacks in late 2008, including an armed robbery of a Star Tribune employee. The violence prompted the creation of a Trail Watch patrol, which continues to monitor the trails six years later.
Muggings have been reduced to one or two a year since then on both trails, said Soren Jensen, executive director of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, which started the trail patrols. But he said that the coalition has tested light levels on the greenway with meters, finding dim spots in about a dozen areas. Three lights were added last year, and three more are coming this year, he said.
Jensen said priority is being given to lighting trail areas near stairways that can provide quick getaways for assailants. He said that security cameras on the greenway are being improved and that he is hoping for signs to warn potential criminals that they are being filmed.