This Friday, the Minneapolis City Council will be voting to decide the future of 3rd Avenue through downtown as it makes room for new protected bikeways this summer. These are the options on the table:
• Four traffic lanes (two in each direction): Supported by a handful of downtown business owners and those who prioritize fast driving above all else. Based on conjecture about what might happen. Gains drivers a few seconds, on average. Only possible by removing the existing green medians. Effectively results in six lanes of concrete, with some plastic posts.
• Three traffic lanes (one in each direction, with designated left-turn lanes in the center): Supported by several city-appointed committees, neighborhood groups and those who prioritize human lives, health and safety. Based on the results of multiple detailed engineering studies. Gains all users greater natural beauty and, more important, safety. The existing green medians would be maintained and new planters added to provide the bicyclists’ protective barrier and a more humanizing environment for all of us, and studies consistently demonstrate that limiting the number of through lanes makes crossing the street on foot far less hazardous and significantly reduces crash rates for drivers. Everybody wins!
Plants vs. pavement? Safety vs. speed? Careful analysis vs. conjecture? To me, this choice is so clear. The three-lane design will provide the best experience for all users. I hope our City Council comes to see it that way, too.
Julia Tabbut, Minneapolis
The writer is vice-chair of the Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
Two cases, two different values placed on the evidence
Two weeks ago, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to charge those responsible for the shooting death of Jamar Clark, reasoning that the evidence, in his opinion, did not support the possible charges. In contrast, last week Minneapolis City Attorney Susan Segal dismissed the dubious assault charges against attorney Jordan Kushner, who had been accused of obstructing University of Minnesota police during a demonstration last fall, even though, in her opinion, the “evidence supports the charges.”
All facts are not created equal, but should it be that what a prosecutor thinks about the evidence is more important than the evidence itself? The power to prosecute is the power to cause certain havoc — it is the power to destroy.
Bryan J. Leary, Minnetonka
The writer is a Hennepin County public defender.
Making a lot of noise on things that won’t help and might hurt
It seems House Republicans are at it again. Why focus their attention on transportation, taxes, health care, etc., when you can waste time with a needless escalation of explosives and gambling (“House votes to allow powerful fireworks,” April 12, an article that also reported on the House’s affirmation of the legality of fantasy sports). My neighborhood already sounds like a war zone for a week before July 4th and a week after. More access to powerful fireworks simply equates to more noise and potentially life-altering accidents. As for fantasy sports, there is a fine line between people participating in this activity with co-workers, friends. etc., than with an Internet-based company whose only goal is to take your money. When you keep government intervention to a bare minimum on these topics, the people of Minnesota will suffer physically and financially.
Dane Anderson, Golden Valley
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In an April 11 commentary, Vance Stuehrenberg and Jim McDonough wrote: “If no additional transportation funding is passed this year, legislators will say they ‘saved’ Minnesotans from paying more in fees.”
That rang true with an “ouch!” from me — not that legislators actually will have saved us anything, but that they’ll claim they have. For several years, I worked in a two-story aerospace facility in California. The roof leaked in rainy weather — a problem the maintenance crews tried to address every year with patches upon patches. Eventually, it got so bad that every office on the second floor had ceiling tiles removed to allow big swaths of plastic sheeting to funnel incoming rainwater into 50-gallon plastic garbage cans in every office (two in my own office, which was 8 by 10 feet) and hall. So much valuable equipment was being ruined that finally a massive roof repair was undertaken. I met the construction foreman and asked why it had taken so long to get around to it. He said: “We tried to fix this 10 years ago. It would have cost $15,000, but one of the executives chose to defer it and mark that as a ‘cost saving’ on his part. He got a bonus for that and retired three years later. Now it’s costing $1.5 million, and that’s not including the equipment that was damaged or the loss in productivity from your having to work under these conditions.”
Deferred road maintenance is no more practical than is deferred roof maintenance. Neither of these things improves through neglect, no matter how benign, and those who pad their résumés and incomes by encouraging such laxity are unworthy of the jobs they hold.
Steve Hoffmann, Anoka
E. LAKE STREET
Store proprietors’ perseverance is helping create a destination
I was appalled to read in the article introducing the new Hi-Lo Diner in Minneapolis (“Destination diner,” April 9) that the building across the street (Forage Modern Workshop) has had its store door kicked in on eight occasions since opening four years ago. My husband and I are frequent customers at Dogwood Coffee, which is attached to Forage. But I was amazed to read that the owners of the new diner, also the owners of Forage, have not only hung in there after so many break-ins but have moved forward with making Lake Street an increasing destination for us St. Paulites across the river. We wondered why the hours were so extended (6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily). Kudos to you guys! We’ll be customers of the diner, too. Hoping to continue to make Lake Street a great place to be.
Sandra Carlin, St. Paul
Belinda Jensen is one, and now she has a book series as well
Once upon a time there was a 7-year-old girl who made dioramas with pink and blue cotton balls for cold and warm fronts. She interviewed the local weather celebrities like Belinda Jensen and Paul Douglas. The movie “Twister” was released when she was 14. She told me then that someday she would work for the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the team featured in the movie. Flash-forward 13 years, and that little girl is doing exactly that. Thank you, Belinda, for your warm encouragement and for being a great role model to my daughter. How delightful that a new age of 7-year-old girls can read your book series “Bel the Weather Girl” (“KARE 11’s Belinda Jensen’s ‘Bel’ hits bookshelves,” Variety, April 12) and set their dreams in motion.
Patricia Meyer, Maple Grove