A group of Seward Montessori students who gathered in the Minneapolis City Council chambers Tuesday sat quietly, paper signs held aloft.
“It works! Keep 29th closed for good!” one sign read. “Two years, no fears. The closure works!” read another.
The portion of 29th Avenue S. that crosses the Midtown Greenway has been closed to motor vehicle traffic on a trial basis since 2015 as part of a city plan to turn it into a bicycle boulevard. A council committee on Tuesday accepted a staff recommendation to close the crossing permanently.
City plans designate 29th Avenue as both a bicycle boulevard and a safe route for Seward students biking or walking to school. Traffic counts taken during the trial closure showed a reduction in traffic around the greenway as well as a few blocks away near the school, transportation planner Forrest Hardy told the committee.
The permanent closure would involve installing low barriers both north and south of the greenway, with enough space on either side for bicycles to pass through. The barriers would be low enough to the ground that emergency vehicles could cross over them.
The council committee voted unanimously to accept the staff recommendation — to applause from the students and teachers in the audience — but it’s still unclear when and how the project will come together.
There’s funding identified for the bicycle boulevard project, which is slated for construction this summer, but not for the permanent closure.
Council Member Cam Gordon suggested looking outside the city for money — perhaps at the state level. When he asked what the project might cost, though, staff were hesitant to settle on a number. In addition to the barrier, the permanent closure will involve mitigating traffic at 30th Avenue S., where vehicles have been diverted.