Despite broad community support and a clearly identified need, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) did not apply for a Bloomberg Philanthropies asphalt art grant for the Olson Memorial Highway & Van White Boulevard intersection. Although the City of Minneapolis expressed support for asphalt art on Olson, because MnDOT owns the right-of-way, MnDOT needed to approve the project.
Community organizations in the Near North neighborhood of Minneapolis joined together in early May to ask the City of Minneapolis, Vision Zero, and MnDOT to apply for funding to install an asphalt art pilot project at the intersection of Olson Memorial Highway and Van White Boulevard by the grant deadline of June 12, 2023. The dangerous intersection could benefit from a project like this, as data shows asphalt art projects significantly reduce pedestrian crashes and unsafe driving behavior.
MnDOT said that they are “receptive to the idea to include pavement art on Hwy 55” but claimed that staff did not have adequate time to submit a grant, despite the offer from Our Streets Minneapolis to cowrite the grant.
This is a matter of priority. MnDOT had plenty of time to apply. Our Streets Minneapolis and community partners first reached out to flag the asphalt art grant opportunity over a month ago to ensure that MnDOT and the City had adequate time.
Additionally, Vision Zero identified the highway as a high-injury crash corridor in 2017, but decision-makers have taken no action to improve safety since that study. Ultimately, the City of Minneapolis applied for an asphalt art grant at a different location.
Your Advocacy is Working
Your voices made and continue to make a difference. It was confirmed that the City of Minneapolis is working with MnDOT on near-term safety improvements that reflect the recent Minneapolis City Council resolution. Details on the specific improvements will be released soon. MnDOT should fund the asphalt art project as part of its interim safety improvements project to allow work to begin immediately.
We are calling on MnDOT to implement an asphalt art project at the Olson & Van White intersection as part of this year’s safety improvements and to fully incorporate Summit Academy students and other community partners in the project’s design and implementation.
Additionally, we expect this year’s safety improvements to include all of the Phase 1 demands; lowering the speed limit, re-striping the roadway to add bus and bike lanes, and improving pedestrian lighting.