Mobile Food Vendors
After the success of the downtown mobile food vender initiative last year, Robert is leading an effort to expand mobile food vendors to other parts of the city. This initial phase is intended to be a pilot project for future expansion to the rest of the city. Restaurants and patrons alike are delighted by the success of the downtown food carts, which is sure to translate to other parts of the city.
This summer, Ward 6 constituents will be able to catch a quick lunch or dinner from vendors set-up along Chicago Avenue by the global market. Come out for a quick snack and stop in for a gift or some groceries while you’re there.
The 6th Ward is at the center of a lot of major, long-term transportation and energy projects going on in the City of Minneapolis. These public and public-purpose proposals will bring significant investment in the Ward and throughout Minneapolis. 6th Ward residents, business owners, workers and other stakeholders will need to be involved in these efforts to ensure that the public investment reflects the communities’ interests.
My community activism in the area of transportation, especially through a social and economic justice lens, was one of the paths I followed into elected office. Promoting sustainable and affordable communities through energy innovation are important to me and the people I represent. With the importance of transit and transportation to my core city constituents it is no surprise that transportation has been an emphasis in my work on City Council. I represent you and the City of Minneapolis on a lot of different transportation related bodies where I make the connection between federal funding and local projects.
Here is a brief rundown of some of the large-scale projects currently underway in the 6th Ward:
1. The Reopening of Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street
The decision by the Minneapolis City Council in the 1970’s to close Nicollet Avenue was never a popular one. It was a crisis response to a budget draining situation. The City of Minneapolis’ closing of Nicollet was responsible for dividing our communities and taking redevelopment momentum from this important intersection. I believe that the City of Minneapolis needs to be responsible for correcting this mistake.
As part of the 2012 City of Minneapolis Budget, I authored a direction to City departments to move the reopening of Nicollet forward. Later in April City staff will offer a report on progress defining a project area, establishing a timeline, begin to identify potential funding and designing a community engagement process.
My commitment is to keep pushing this forward and to make sure that all communities have voices in this process. Please stay close to your neighborhood organization or local business association, as well as my office, for updates and information.
2. 35W/Lake Street Transit/Access Project
The intersection of 35W and Lake Street is once again the site of intense design efforts. For decades almost all levels of government have been interested in further investment in the 35W and Lake Street area, though there has been disagreement about the scope and nature of the work. This time around the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Metropolitan Council/MetroTransit and MN Dept of Transportation (MnDOT) have joined efforts in a planning process that puts transit first.
The I-35W corridor is one of the highest transit corridors in the state. The Met Council – operator of MetroTransit buses and trains – along with the counties, city and state governments, invested heavily in a system to better serve the South Metro and increase ridership. This system is generically called bus rapid transit or BRT. Many parts of the BRT system are in place like; center lanes and the center line station at 46th St, the incredible downtown transitways of 2nd and Marquette Avenue and suburban park and rides.
To “flip the switch” and begin full BRT service the region needs a new, centerline transit station at 35W and Lake St. This means building a new bridge and creating a connection to the Midtown Greenway where streetcars will be installed (see point 3 below). There are two MnDOT bridge projects just north of Lake St that are being designed at the same time. All the neighborhoods along the project area, including the 6th Ward neighborhoods of Whittier, Stevens Square, Phillips West and Ventura Village are represented as part of the community based Project Advisory Committee (PAC). Regular progress reports are held at the neighborhood meetings. Also, there are regular community meetings to inform and engage the broader public, so please stay involved.
3. Streetcars on Nicollet Avenue and in the Greenway
The City, as part of a comprehensive transportation action plan called Access Minneapolis, has invested funds to help us decide if and where streetcars should be reintroduced in our city. Minneapolis grew up around a well-used streetcar system that converted to buses in the middle of the 20th century. Modern streetcars are attractive because they are very supportive of local businesses, encourage greater reinvestment, cheaper to build that light rail and are less expensive to operate than buses.
The efforts in Minneapolis were give a great boost in the last year. Two federal grants totaling $1.2 million were awarded to further study and design our streetcar system. One grant for $900 thousand was award to the City of Minneapolis to study a streetcar running on Nicollet from approximately 50th St on the south then shifting to Central Avenue in Northeast all the way to the city limits and beyond. The second grant went to Met Council/Met Transit for$300 thousand to study and design streetcars on the Midtown Greenway which is strongly supported by the Midtown Greenway Coalition, the neighborhoods and the corporate and local businesses.
Opportunities for community involvement in the Nicollet/Central and Greenway streetcar (or as they are officially known as “urban circulator”) studies will be coming soon.
4. Xcel Hiawatha High Voltage Power Line
For the last several years Xcel Energy has sought to build a high voltage power line along the Midtown Greenway corridor from Hiawatha Avenue to 35W with substations at Hiawatha and at Oakland Ave at the Greenway. Originally Xcel proposed an overhead, high voltage line (on tall metal towers) along the edge of the Greenway. The community and City of Minneapolis opposed this plan. We wanted to Xcel to; first demonstrate the need for the line, address the increasing demand with alternative energies and conservation, and if the line needs to be built to put it underground.
The neighborhoods, City and County were very much aligned on their positions to protect the Greenway and minimize negative impacts of the line on the community by burying it. The MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has decision-making authority over the line. Due to well organized and delivered testimony by residents, City and County representatives, the PUC ordered Xcel to put the line underground along 28th Street. This was a great victory! Xcel is currently working with community representatives to design the two substations. The PUC decision about what part of Xcel’s rate base (just Minneapolis or their whole MN base) will pay for the more expensive buried facility.
These large-scale, long-term projects along with continued investment in alternative energy generation, onsite energy storage, energy conservation, and the pedestrian and biking realms will continue to better serve all of the Midtown area, South Minneapolis, our city, state and country to provide greater options, improve the environment, promote energy independence and keep housing affordable. Easy access to transit and “active” transportation like biking and walking make our neighborhoods and commercial corridors attractive to new residents and businesses while supporter those who are already here.
Last updated Apr. 6, 2012