Crews complete extension of Van White Memorial Boulevard

A landmark project has literally bridged a divide between Minneapolis’ north and south sides. After 14 months of construction, a new stretch Van White Memorial Boulevard will open to traffic at 5 p.m., Aug. 21. The street spans rail lines and passes under a freeway – overcoming two barriers that have contributed to the isolation of north Minneapolis for decades. 

The mile of newly constructed roadway connects the Harrison and Bryn Mawr neighborhoods to Interstate 394 and neighborhoods to the south. Van White Boulevard includes a 600-foot bridge above the Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail lines and the Cedar Lake Trail. A smaller bridge crosses Bassett Creek. This street now provides these communities a vital connection to each other, the rest of the city and the metro area.  The new street also has a shared bike and pedestrian area that connects to the Cedar Lake Trail, making it possible for North Siders to bike to Downtown and beyond better than ever before. 

Van White Memorial Boulevard should help strengthen the North Side’s links to jobs and recreational, cultural and educational resources throughout the city. Making north Minneapolis more accessible will also help spur development in one of the most undeveloped areas near downtown Minneapolis. 

The project was born out of the City’s efforts to de-concentrate family public housing in the city. The Heritage Park mixed-income neighborhood replaced old public housing buildings in the near North Side as part of those efforts. This reconnection of north Minneapolis to south Minneapolis will also help further that goal.

The first section of Van White Memorial Boulevard, completed in 2002, serves as the main street for approximately 620 families in Heritage Park.  With the completion of this final section, the street now stretches from Interstate 394 and Dunwoody Boulevard in the south to Plymouth Avenue in the north.

The boulevard is named in honor of the City’s first African-American councilmember. Van White represented the 5th Ward from 1980 to 1990, and also worked for the City’s Public Works Department from 1956 to 1968. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 68.

The $22.3 million project was funded in part from federal, county and city funds. For more information on this and other street projects in Minneapolis, go to www.minneapolismn.gov/cip/2013.  

 

Published Aug. 20, 2013