Readying for big 2005 reconstruction, Lake Street advisory group formed

Rip-up and rebuild from Lyndale to the river designed to last 40 years

Hennepin County is scheduled to rip up and reconstruct most of Lake Street and its sidewalks from Lyndale Avenue to the Mississippi River starting in 2005, and has created a citizens committee to help shape the project.

The 25-member Lake Street Reconstruction & Streetscaping Project Advisory Committee (PAC) will meet through mid-2004 to discuss everything from parking issues and turn lanes to landscape and lighting improvements, said Project Manager Tom Johnson of Smith Parker.

"If you are interested in participating, now is your chance," said Jim Grube, Hennepin County’s transportation director. "I think it is a tremendous opportunity for the businesses and neighborhoods along there."

The project will link with several major south Minneapolis infrastructure projects: the I-35W Access Project, which is adding ramps at Lake Street; the light-rail transit (LRT) line on Hiawatha Avenue; and the planned transit corridor on the 29th Street Midtown Greenway, one block north.

Lake Street has not had a major overhaul since the late 1940s or early 1950s, Grube said. The county expects this reconstruction will be good for more than 40 years — and help return Lake Street to its heyday as a bustling commercial corridor.

"Our goal would be to try to help restore the look and feel of Lake Street," Grube said. "People have fond memories of what it once was."

Lake Street — which touches 14 neighborhoods from the Chain of Lakes to the river — has already rebounded, with a spate of new immigrant businesses in recent years.

The project’s goals include improving Lake Street’s safety, transit and vehicle capacity — and making Lake Street a destination spot, according to a draft plan.

There will be upheaval for Lake Street’s neighborhoods and businesses in the short run, however.

"Access to Lake Street will be disrupted," the draft plan said. "On-street parking will likely be lost temporarily during construction. Both traffic and parking will likely be diverted to neighborhood residential streets. Transit service and pedestrian access will be affected, redirected and/or limited during construction."

The county will break the $25 million project into three phases, county staff said:


  • The east side of Lyndale to east of I-35W;



  • East of I-35W to 21st Avenue South; and



  • East of 27th Avenue to the river.


    The county already rebuilt Lake Street between 21st and 27th avenues as part of the Hiawatha LRT project, though that section may get added streetscape improvements.

    The county would likely start with the Lyndale Avenue to I-35W stretch, to coordinate with the I-35W Access Project, Johnson said. Johnson also serves as project manager for the I-35W Project Advisory Committee.

    The county hired Smith Parker as project manager and SRF Consulting Group to do the engineering on sole source contracts, Grube said. It did not have competitive bids.

    Grube said he recommended Smith Parker because of its familiarity with the I-35W Access Project and because some residents and businesses involved with the Lake Street project were familiar with the firm. (The Smith Parker-led Access Project has taken criticism from some quarters for, among other things, recommending widening Lake Street near the freeway.)

    Grube recommended SRF Consulting because it had worked with Close Architects on previous Lake Street streetscape projects, he said. "We can take advantage of relationships already built," he said.

    The contract with Smith Parker is not to exceed $300,000 with a top hourly rate of $60 an hour, he said. The SRF contract is not to exceed $1.1 million, with a top hourly rate of $70 an hour.

    The contracts have multipliers to cover overhead costs, such as employee benefits, rent and utilities, Grube said. Firms multiply the hourly rate by a number between 2.3 and 2.8, depending on an audit of business costs. In addition, firms add 5 to 15 percent for profit.

    The Journal calculates those factors translate rates of $60 and $70 an hour to somewhere between $145 and $225 an hour.

    PAC membership getting set

    Hennepin County commissioners Peter McLaughlin and Gail Dorfman asked Paula Gilbertson of Lake Street Partners, a Powderhorn Park resident, to chair the PAC, Johnson said.

    The county invited Lake Street neighborhood and business associations to appoint people to represent them on the PAC, he said. It asked City Councilmembers in affected wards to attend or appoint representatives.

    PAC members — and the people or organizations they represent — are:


  • Corinne Ertz (Lyndale neighborhood);



  • Tom Roberts (Nicollet/Lake Business Association);



  • Dave Harstad (Whittier Alliance);



  • Craig Anderson (I-35W Project Advisory Committee);



  • Valari Metoyer (4th and Lake Business Association);



  • Julie Ingebritsen (Bloomington and Lake Business Association);



  • Jennifer McDonald (Central neighborhood);



  • Holly Breymaier (Cooper neighborhood);



  • Phillip Koski (Corcoran neighborhood);



  • Corrie Zoll (Hiawatha/Lake Business Association);



  • Ted Muller (Lake Street Council);



  • Kathy Berends (Longfellow Business Association);



  • Mollie O’Connor (Longfellow neighborhood);



  • Eric Eoloff (Midtown Community Works Partnership);



  • Jeff Carlson (Midtown Greenway Coalition);



  • Will Owens (Midtown Phillips neighborhood);



  • Ronald Battles (Phillips East neighborhood);



  • Muriel Simmons (Phillips West neighborhood);



  • Victor Abalo (Powderhorn Park neighborhood);



  • David Johnson (Chicago/Lake Business Association);



  • Councilmember Robert Lilligren (8th Ward, representing himself);



  • Lorie Komar (6th Ward Councilmember Dean Zimmermann);



  • Dewayne Townsend (12th Ward Councilmember Sandra Colvin Roy); and



  • Lee Wallace (9th Ward Councilmember Gary Schiff).


    The PAC membership is still changing, Johnson said. It could add more seats, but the represented group has to be an established non-profit organization.

    Hennepin County has owned Lake Street since 1993, following a series of road swaps with the City of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota, Grube said.