January 21, 2022
Our Streets Minneapolis and the Harrison Neighborhood Association joined forces in Fall 2021 to launch Bring Back 6th. Our goals were to address the historical harms of Olson Memorial Highway and build a vision for the future that truly centers the needs of nearby communities. Since launching the campaign, we have knocked over 1000 doors and received hundreds of signatures in support of this better future. We’re happy to share that we received an official response from Minnesota Department Of Transportation (MnDOT) Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher acknowledging this campaign and MnDOT’s current plans for Olson Memorial Highway. The letter in its entirety can be read below.
Bringing together transportation expertise and the lived experiences of those impacted by the highway has resulted in this transformative vision for the future. Bring Back 6th would not be possible without our partners and support from the Near North community. Thank you to the Harrison Neighborhood Association, Heritage Park Neighborhood Association, and all the community members who shared their stories and took an action step.
Thank you to MnDOT and Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher for acknowledging the harms caused to our community members by highway construction and your willingness to find solutions. We look forward to future conversations on making the Bring Back 6th vision a reality.
This public response from MnDOT is an important step forward, but our work is not over. We will continue to advocate for immediate walking, biking, transit and rolling improvements for Olson Memorial Highway and push for the community vision for the corridor. We wanted to elaborate on some points included in the letter.
MnDOT shares that Olson Memorial Highway is scheduled for re-pavement and signal repair beginning in 2026. We encourage MnDOT to broaden the scope of this project to allow for the Bring Back 6th vision to become a reality. Rather than simply repave the highway as it is, this project should reassess the highway in its entirety. Additionally - there are urgent safety concerns on Olson Memorial Highway that cannot wait until 2026. We expect to see a more concrete, expedited timeline for pedestrian, biking and transit improvements. To accomplish this, we encourage MnDOT to add these improvements via their demonstration project program which allows for an accelerated timeline.
The letter discusses the possibility of a “turnback” for the area of Olson Memorial Highway running through North Minneapolis. In summary, this means that the stewardship of the land would be transferred from MnDOT to a more local agency such as Hennepin County or the City of Minneapolis. While not a promise, this model would allow for more community involvement in transportation planning and more transformative visions such as a highway to boulevard conversion.
We hope that you will continue to join us on this journey to tackle the historical injustices caused by Olson Memorial Highway. You can get involved today by volunteering with us this weekend and attending the Bring Back 6th forum on January 25th. We extend another heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported this work so far.