A member-based group of individuals and organizations who want to protect and enhance the Midtown Greenway.
Help protect your greenway and make it even better!

Greenway Improvements and Economic Development

"Improvements" is the general term we give to land-use, transporation, and safety issues in the Greenway.  It encompasses everything from new apartment projects to improved trail crossings, from installing new ramps and bridges to adding amenities like benches and picnic tables. Improvements also include enhancing transit in the corridor.

We also focus on land-use issues that may harm the Greenway, such as the high-voltage power lines that were proposed for the corridor.   We took the lead in organizing citizens and neighborhoods to oppose the lines in the Greenway -- and we were thrilled when we won!   (The lines were buried under 28th street, instead of being strung up overhead in the Greenway.)

Extend the Greenway Partnership

The Midtown Greenway Coalition is helping to launch a new coalition (partnership) to extend the Midtown Greenway over the Mississippi River and through Saint Paul.

The greenway extension includes converting the Short Line Bridge over the river into a bicycle and pedestrian trail.  CP Rail currently owns and operates the bridge, which has an average of one train per day, serving three remaining customers along the Hiawatha/Hwy 55 corridor.

The project includes creating a new Saint Paul Greenway, using the same rail line.  This new Greenway would extend through Union Park, along Ayd Mill Road, and end in downtown St. Paul at the river.

The Partnership will also work to support the proposed Min Hi Line, which would connect the Midtown Greenway to Minnehaha Falls Park, also using the same rail line along Hiawatha/Hwy 55. All organizations that share the vision of extending the Greenway are welcome to join.  

The Partnership seeks to include elected officials, government agencies, neighborhood groups, nonprofits, and businesses from both Minneapolis and Saint Paul.   Once formed, the partnership would seek funding for a full-time staff person, who would provide staff support to the partnership, in addition to advancing the mission of the organization.  

Current Partners as of 7/13/17: Midtown Greenway Coalition, Union Park District Council, Min Hi Line Coalition, St. Anthony Park District Council, St. Paul Smart Trips / Transit for Livable Communities, Friends of the Mississippi River, Erik’s Bike Shop.

If your organization would like more information about joining the Partnership, please contact Soren@midtowngreenway.org

29th Street Shared Street Demonstration Project

The Midtown Greenway Coalition recently received funding from the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) to install a temporary “shared street” or “woonerf” along East 29th Street, between Bloomington Avenue and 18th Avenue.

The goal is to improve E 29th Street to make it a great street that enhances the neighborhood and creates better connections to the Greenway and the 17th Avenue Bike Boulevard, so that more people bike and walk and engage in active living lifestyles.

The demonstration will focus on a 3-block segment between Bloomington Avenue and 18th Avenue.  It will be temporary, and improvements selected by the community will be tested for 6-8 weeks later this summer.   Community members will be invited to experience the shared street and provide feedback. A shared street (also called a woonerf) is a street that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists, while also allowing cars (usually at slower speeds).  

New Construction and Development

The Greenway is a magnet for new construction and development.   This kind of transit or trail-oriented development (TOD) is good for the Greenway and good for Minneapolis.   But the Greenway needs advocates to ensure that developments enhance the Greenway, not harm it.   Midtown Greenway Coalition volunteers and staff meet regularly with city planners, city council members, architects, and developers to ensure that new projects are Greenway friendly.

We are pro-growth and density, and we rarely oppose development projects along the Greenway.  However, it is not uncommon for us to oppose project designs that could harm the Greenway.  One continuing concern are proposed buildings that may shadow the Greenway excessively in the winter, making the trail more dangerous (due to the sun not being able to melt the ice and snow).   We've had several recent victories in this area, convicing developers to step back their buildings in order to protect the Greenway.

Ramps, Bridges, Street Crossings, and Amenties

The Coaliton also works to improve street crossings and add new ramps and stairs.   Recently, we were successful in our efforts to improve the street crossing at 28th, convicing the city to install a new median that alerted cars to the bike crossing.   That was an improvement, but we continue to focus on ways to make that crossing (and a similar one at Minnehaha) safer.

We've also successfully convinced the city to switch stop signs on the trail, so that cars have to stop, rather than bikes.  In these sections, there are more bikes than cars, so it makes sense.  (In other sections, the ratio is more even.)

We're also always working to put in more ramps and stairs, improve the condition of the trail, and install benches and other amenities.   We also installed four FIXIT bike-repair stations, donated by DERO Bike Racks.

Rail Transit

Our Coalition has worked to get a streetcar in the Greenway for more than 15 years.  To keep the Greenway green, our vision is a "turf-embedded" streetcar, rather than one with rails encased in concrete. These "grass-tracks" are common in Europe, and are also used in New Orleans and Kenosha, WI.   We believe the streetcar would bring many more people to the Midtown Corridor, where they can easily visit the many restaurants and businesses on Lake Street.   A streetcar would also put more "eyes on the Greenway," increasing safety.  Learn more about our efforts to get a streetcar in the Greenway.

Other Land-use Issues

One of our biggest victories in the past 5 years was keeping the proposed high-voltage power lines out of the Greenway!   Working with a coalition of neighborhoods, the Midtown Greenway Coalition led the battle and paid for an excellent attorney, who helped us navigate and successfully win our legal challenges.   The power lines were installed under 28th street, rather than placed overhead in the Greenway.   

Greenway Improvements Committee

Our Greenway Improvements Committee, an official sub-committee of the board of directors, is open to everyone with an interest in land-use, development, and transit issues that affect the Greenway.   Issues the committee works on include:

  • RAMPS, PARKS AND PLAZAS on land adjacent to the Greenway, part of a long-term community vision for more trail entrance ramps, greenspaces, public walkways along the street-level edge of the Greenway’s trench segment, and plazas at future trail transit stations.  These open spaces will improve Greenway access, safety, and aesthetics.
  • GUIDING NEW DEVELOPMENTS on land adjacent to the Greenway so that they front the Greenway rather than hide it behind parking lots or loading docks.
  • STREETCARS in the Greenway alongside the trails, to some day provide a cross-town link connecting the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit line with the future Southwest Corridor Light Rail Transit line as an important part of a growing regional rail system.

This committee meets the second Thursday of every month to discuss developments and improvements to the Greenway.  Contact soren@midtowngreenway.org if you'd like to get involved.

More on Construction and Developments...

Given the narrowness of the Greenway, developments that front on the Greenway can make or break the Greenway experience.  Developments that gracefully integrate and have “eyes and ears” on the Greenway make trail users experiences much more pleasant than blank walls and parking garages.  Since the first phase was completed in 2000, the Midtown Greenway has been seen by developers as a prime location for residential development.  Even with housing market ups and downs, the Coalition has seen a steady stream of development proposals that front on the Greenway.

The Coalition offers suggestions for making developments more Greenway friendly.  We focus on the impacts that the development will have on the Greenway only and look to the local neighborhood organization to provide input on all other issues such as traffic impacts or the aesthetics of the buildings in question.   Over the years, the Coalition has become the ‘go to’ organization that developers and elected officials contact about how a particular development impacts the Greenway.  Developers request time on our Improvements Committee agenda to present their proposals and hear our feedback.  Then, the Coalition drafts a letter or resolution on the development which it sends to the developer, elected officials, and the local  neighborhood organization.  For larger and more controversial developments, the Board usually passes a resolution on the development while on less controversial developments, we usually only send a letter.

Besides giving input on developments, the Coalition participates in City land use planning efforts, advocates for changes in zoning that will create better developments, and looks at issues which impact the Greenway users experience like conflicts with auto traffic at at-grade trail crossings.   We also work with other Coalition committees like the Greenspace Committee to insure that all Coalition interests are represented when talking to developers, etc.

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