Days before breaking ground, Mayor Jacob Frey and Public Works Director Margaret Anderson-Kelliher dropped a watered-down plan for the Bryant Ave S. reconstruction, undercutting years of community engagement and a previously approved plan that aligns with Minneapolis transportation goals and bicycle and pedestrian safety. Minneapolis Public Works has quietly dismantled the long-planned pedestrian and biking improvements on Bryant Avenue S in order to increase parking and appease wealthy and privileged stakeholders.
While Phase 1 of the Bryant Avenue S reconstruction project (42nd St. to 50th St. W) is already substantially completed, Phase 2 is set to begin this month from 42nd St. to Lake Street. On March 30, Don Elwood, City of Minneapolis Director of Transportation Engineering and Design, sent a letter to area residents and project stakeholders stating that Phase 1 experienced “parking challenges” and that Public Works would be changing the Phase 2 design.
|TAKE ACTION||STAKEHOLDER MEETING|
Appeasing Select Wealthy Property Owners over Larger Community
These proposed changes include:
- Widening private driveway entrances
- Removing the planned chicanes to accommodate more parking. Chicanes are curves in the street that slow traffic, increase space for trees, benches, and other pedestrian amenities, and are proven to reduce speeding and the risk of fatal crashes. The removal of chicanes will also likely reduce the overall green space and street tree coverage.
- Changing the bikeway configuration to place it next to the street. This puts bikeway users at risk of being doored by parked cars and will likely mean a narrower bikeway.
These changes would make the corridor less safe, reduce green space, and undercuts accessibility for people who cannot afford to own cars or choose a climate-friendly way to travel. It also dismantles what was previously an exciting reconstruction project that set the regional standard for people-first street design and is a step backward in addressing the climate crisis that we are currently experiencing.
In the letter, Public Works justified the changes by citing resident feedback. In reality, the decision to dismantle the street’s design was made behind closed doors to cater to a select group of property owners, including the president of the Southwest Business Association. The previous, people-first design was created after years of community input. By making these changes days before construction begins with no public notice, Mayor Frey and Director Anderson Kelliher are putting parking for a small group of privileged stakeholders above the ability for everyone else to safely use the corridor. The changes were also made without approval from the City Council, which is a departure from the standard practice.
Car-Centrism at the Cost of Safety
The City also cited concerns about snow clearance. In reality this is little more than a red herring to obscure the real reason for the change, which is to create more space for parking. Furthermore, if Mayor Frey and Director Anderson Kelliher really wanted to address the issue of winter snow and ice clearance, they would support a city sidewalk plowing program.
These changes by Public Works undercut the City’s own policy goals, including the Vision Zero goal to eliminate severe and fatal traffic crashes by 2027, and the mode shift goal in the Transportation Action Plan, which commits to 60% of the trips in Minneapolis be made via walking, biking or transit by 2030.
Virtual Stakeholder Meeting
It is important to point out that this meeting is inaccessible to many, with little advance notice given and a meeting time when many working-class residents are unavailable. However, it is critically important to hold Public Works accountable for undercutting the original design and to call on them to restore the original design.
Key questions to ask during the meeting:
- Why did Public Works change the project layout days before construction and without bringing it to the City Council?
- Will these changes reduce the width of the bikeway and/or sidewalk?
- Will these changes reduce the width of the green space and the number of street trees?
- What is the net change in parking spots from these changes?
- Why are the stakeholder meetings being held during inaccessible hours?
- How will these changes impact the City’s policy goals, including the goal to eliminate severe and fatal crashes by 2027 and have 60% of all trips be made via walking, biking and transit by 2030?
In addition to Thursday's meeting, we have been told that there will be weekly “stakeholder meetings” about the project. However since construction will begin any week, it is important to share your concerns about the proposed changes as soon as possible. Click here to sign-up to receive project updates from the City, which include the information for the weekly stakeholder meetings.
If you can’t make the meeting on Thursday, you can send an email to Mayor Frey, Council Members and Public Works staff.
Key decision makers for the project include:
- Mayor Jacob Frey
- Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher
- Project Construction Manager Menbere Wodajo
- Director of Transportation Engineering and Design Don Elwood
- Ward 10 Council Member Aisha Chughtai
- Ward 13 Council Member Linea Palmisano