Minneapolis park planners have scaled back a proposal that would have pushed cars off Minnehaha Parkway, responding to a flood of opposition from neighborhood residents.
The idea to modify the roadway had called for concrete medians at multiple intersections to block through-traffic, forcing cars to turn off the parkway in hopes of improving safety for cyclists and pedestrians. But an updated proposal unveiled this week removes two medians — at Nicollet and Lyndale avenues — and leaves longer stretches of Minnehaha Parkway open to drivers.
Project manager Adam Arvidson said that the Park Board staff and design team presented the new plan to address the public’s concerns.
“As the community has rightly pointed out, the medians at Nicollet and Lyndale aren’t providing any particular safety or environmental benefit,” Arvidson said, noting the safety benefits of separate trails for cyclists in those areas. “They were merely blocking traffic.”
Discussion of the medians dominated conversations about the larger Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan in recent weeks. Dozens of neighbors have attended recent committee meetings. An online public survey of comments related to the proposal is focused on transportation concerns, with nearly 75% of comments focused on parkway roads.
Al Giesen, who lives close to the parkway, said he was not surprised by the decision to remove those two medians.
“I was pleased that the Park Board heard all of that, and they realize that the medians really wouldn’t accomplish much,” Giesen said.
The plan still calls for medians where Minnehaha Parkway meets Lynnhurst Field and Portland Avenue. Giesen said he would like to see those abandoned as well.
But Arvidson said they are still in the plan because safety questions exist at those intersections.
A section of the parkway beneath the Nicollet Avenue Bridge could also close and be transformed into an activity and parking area, according to project plans.
Christopher Burns, one of more than 200 members of the “Preserve the Parkway” Facebook group, believes the parkways should be accessible to all — including those in cars.
“I remain totally opposed to closing a section of the road going under the Nicollet [Avenue] Bridge for the same reason,” Burns said.
“We are listening to the community, we are listening to that engagement, and we wanted to take this step in part to assure folks that we’re going to take this seriously,” Arvidson said.
Conversations about Minnehaha Parkway will not continue until more traffic studies and design evaluations are done, said Arvidson.
The Citizen Advisory Committee working on the plan likely will not meet again until this fall, though a feedback survey remains open and can be found online at bit.ly/2MxLktE.