MISSING LINK

The following article by reporter Steve Brandt appeared in the September 5th, 2008, edition of the Star Tribune

PARK BOARD APPROVES LAST PARKWAY SYSTEM LINK

A proposal to complete the missing East Side link of the Minneapolis parkway system has been approved by the Park Board, marking a historic point after decades of failed proposals.

This week’s decision allows park officials to compete for state and federal money to help design and build the 3-mile link.

The proposal was submitted last spring by an advisory committee the board appointed last year to recommend how to fill in a gap between St. Anthony Parkway and E. River Road. That job has eluded generations of park planners.

“I’m glad that the plan was finally accomplished after attempts were made many times over the years,” said Commissioner Walt Dziedzic, who represents the area.

The board deleted a controversial bike link along Stinson Parkway that many area residents opposed. It would have provided a secondary link between St. Anthony and Ridgway parkways.

A proposed park area along the St. Paul border at the Kasota ponds also was deleted; park staff was directed to work to minimize impacts on the ponds. The board also said it will work with Prospect Park residents on traffic impacts that focus on 27th Avenue SE.

Advisory committee Chairman John Erwin said it is likely to take 20 years to complete the plan. It generally follows current streets, although they’re expected to be reconfigured, and adds new parks at strategic locations, especially in the eastern Como neighborhood. Construction generally is expected to be staged from the north end, finishing on the south end.

But Erwin said that it’s reasonable to expect that the northernmost segment, St. Anthony Parkway between Stinson and Interstate 35W, could be rebuilt with new paths, lighting and other amenities, in five years. That passes through the city of St. Anthony.

From north to south, the route also follows Industrial Boulevard to E. Hennepin Avenue, Weeks Avenue, and 29th Avenue SE. It dives under the Burlington Northern tracks to Kasota Avenue SE and then bridges over the southeast rail yard to hook up with the city’s planned Granary Road, cutting south at 27th to the river.