Lake Street reconstruction public meetings set

Hennepin County is hosting a series of public meetings regarding the Lake Street reconstruction project. Residents and business owners can receive updates on planning progress and can comment about the plans.

The meetings will be held:

Monday, Feb. 23, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., East Lake Library, 2727 E. Lake St.

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., 5th Precinct Police Station, 3101 Nicollet Ave. S.

Thursday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Urban Ventures, 3041 4th Ave. S.

The project is scheduled to begin in 2005 and will rebuild Lake Street from Dupont Avenue to the Mississippi River. The rebuild will add new sidewalks and streetscaping, including lighting, benches and other accessories.

The Lake Street project is estimated to cost $25 million. Construction will require special assessments, boosting property taxes and other expenses for Lake Street businesses. These issues will also be addressed at the meetings.

The current project schematics have been analyzed and whittled down by a Project Advisory Committee (PAC) of neighborhood and business representatives.

For Lake Street west of Hiawatha Avenue, the PAC has narrowed it down to two four-lane options, one with parking on one side of the street and the other with parking on both sides.

East of Hiawatha, the PAC voted to continue study of three-lane options. However, at the urging of area business representatives, the group amended their vote to include a four-lane roadway option, too.

Brad Schaeppi, Lowry Hill East neighborhood PAC representative, said four-lane backers worry that too much parking will be lost. Three-lane proponents want that the space used for a bikeway or to enhance pedestrian conditions.

The Lake Street PAC is expected to select a preferred design in March and will -- along with Hennepin County -- solicit public comment before making a final decision. For more information on the Lake Street project history, visit www.lakestreet.info.

A related project called the I-35W Access Project is crafting the more-than-$150 million rebuild for the highway, and the area of Lake Street between Blaisdell and 5th avenues.

In January, the city approved an I-35W concept design, which could affect the Lake Street project by adding exit and entrance ramps to the Lake Street area and widening Lake Street up to seven lanes between Blaisdell and 5th.