Plans for a long-anticipated memorial to the victims of the Aug. 1, 2007 collapse of the I-35W Bridge could be moved from leased land at Gold Medal Park to permanent parkland near the river.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved a motion at its July 21 meeting to work with Mayor R.T. Rybak, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, representatives of victims and donors to find a “suitable location” for the memorial. At least one potential site is a plot of land near 11th Avenue and West River Parkway.
Interim Park Board Superintendent David Fisher said he recently walked the area with representatives from the memorial’s architecture firm, Oslund and Associates. Because of the new site’s parameters, the design could change to something more long and linear with an overlook, he said. The current design for the “remembrance garden” features a low, circular, bubbling fountain surrounded by 13 pillars representing the people who lost their lives when the bridge crashed into the Mississippi River.
Alternatives to Gold Medal Park are being considered because the city and Guthrie Theater own that property and its use could potentially change. Rybak approached the Park Board about the move. He said the project always has been and will continue to be led by the victims’ families.
“Everything remains on the table,” he said.
The possible move to permanent parkland was well received by the Park Board, which supported the idea unanimously.
“This is a tragedy that happened on and over adjoining parkland,” said Park Board President John Erwin. “I think it’s appropriate for [the memorial] to go on land that can stay a park forever.”
Study: Two-lane conversion a success
A city study on the first six months of Hennepin and 1st avenues as two-way roads found that the new setup has reduced crashes, increased cyclists in the area, improved access and maintained traffic flow.
The streets were converted from one-way routes last fall. A shared lane replaced a bike-specific lane on Hennepin, a bike lane was added to 1st Avenue and Nicollet Mall was opened to bikes.
The changes were and still are controversial, especially on 1st Avenue where parking was moved away from the curb, to the left of the bike lane, causing confusion for some motorists and cyclists and complaints from businesses.
But according to the study, the city’s goals have been met:
Bike numbers up
Ridership since the conversion is at roughly 2,347 bikes a day, up from 1,640 per day before the switch.
No crashes have been reported so far on the converted roads.
Traffic up, but efficiency is the same
Hennepin and 1st avenues and their cross streets are seeing more than 433,000 vehicles a day, up 2 percent since the conversion. But traffic flow has been maintained.
Parking problem subsiding
The city says 94 percent of drivers park correctly on 1st Avenue and there is a trend toward fewer tows. On-street parking has been maintained, with revenues in the Warehouse District consistent with previous years.
To see the full report, go to ci.minneapolis.mn.us/hennepinfirst/index.asp.
Park Board to launch riverfront design competition
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Planning Committee at its July 21 meeting approved launching a request for qualifications (RFQ) as the start of a riverfront design competition.
The hope is to garner interest from developers across the nation, choose four to six finalists and have them compete in the design and implementation of a riverfront plan.
“What’s intended here is to really do a broad new design for the riverfront,” said Park Board President John Erwin. “We want to make sure it makes Minneapolis unique nationally and internationally.”
Annie Young, an at-large commissioner, said she saw the potential for a revamped riverfront as the “jewel in our crown.”
Interim Park Board Superintendent David Fisher, a driver of the competition, said he’d like to choose finalists by October and have the teams finish models by November or December.