Lowry Avenue Bridge and Franklin Avenue (between 21st and River) to get bike lanes!

Greetings! My name is Matthew Hendricks, and I’m the chair of the Engineering Committee of the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC). I’m a recent transplant to the Seward neighborhood, and for 7 years prior to moving, my family lived in the Cleveland neighborhood of North Minneapolis. I feel very fortunate to be in Minneapolis, where decades of visionary investment in parks, trails, and bike lanes have created a wonderful place to live and bike. In my spare time I enjoy going to nearby parks with my two kids. I also serve on the boards of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition and Twin Cities Greenways (www.tcgreenways.org), a group that is promoting a new street-to-park conversion Greenway design that is a hybrid of Milwaukee Avenue and the Midtown Greenway.

By way of background, the Bicycle Advisory Committee is a group of citizens and public agency staff that provides advice on plans, policies and infrastructure projects related to biking. Each City Council nominates a citizen representative to the group (for a total of 13), and the Minneapolis Park Board makes three at-large nominations. The Engineering Committee is charged with reviewing infrastructure projects and reporting back to the full BAC with recommendations.

At the most recent Engineering Committee meeting, which took place on May 17, three staff from Hennepin County joined the group to discuss the Lowry Avenue Bridge and Franklin Avenue. Jim Grube made a presentation on the Lowry Avenue Bridge, which is currently under construction. Jim distributed several pages from the construction plans for the bridge, which helped illustrate the dimensions of the roadway and sidewalks at several points along the structure. The discussion covered various characteristics of the new bridge, and ultimately focused on how to get bike lanes back into the bridge design. (After initial design, the bridge width was narrowed to reduce costs.) The outcome of the discussion was that the County staff felt it would be possible to keep bike lanes on the bridge by reducing the total space allocated to the median and adjacent reaction zones from 10 to 8 feet. County staff also expressed an interest in exploring ways to make the sidewalks (which are 12 feet wide) function as a multi-use path for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Next steps: County staff will meet again with BAC members on June 8 to discuss specifics of the bridge design. Information from this discussion will be shared with the full BAC at their next meeting on June 29.

For Franklin Avenue, Bob Byers made a presentation and shared the news that Franklin Avenue between 21st Ave and the bridge over the Mississippi would be getting bike lanes as part of a resurfacing project this Summer. The area near the Riverside intersection will be deferred and then completed as part of the Riverside reconstruction, which begins this Summer as well.

Franklin Avenue between 16th Avenue and Lyndale is also being resurfaced this Summer, but there are currently no plans to add bike lanes to this section of Franklin. County staff noted several challenges to getting bike lanes included yet this summer, but agreed to allocate staff resources to planning for potential future bike lanes. The County emphasized that this resurfacing project is not the final opportunity to make a change to the lane configuration, and stated that striping is typically repainted (and can potentially be changed) on an annual basis.

Next steps: County staff, city staff, and BAC members will begin discussing Franklin Avenue between 16th and Lyndale yet this Summer.

I’m personally encouraged by the amount of progress that has been made on these two projects in a few short months, and I’m grateful that County staff have taken a collaborative, problem-solving approach.


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