Wedge bike bridge opens

Southwest bicyclists may have an easier time getting to and from downtown now that the Loring Bike Bridge has opened – and a future project may extend improvements to Loring Park.

The bridge sweeps over Lyndale Avenue just south of the I-94 entrance ramp. It connects the Loring Park path to Bryant Avenue in the Wedge neighborhood.

The bridge is designed to help riders get over the car-heavy maw where Hennepin and Lyndale avenues meet. Instead of having to cross Lyndale at street level, riders can use the bridge to go over it.

The downhill pedal to Loring Park remains messy because the bike path is still interrupted between Groveland Avenue and the park. In that two-block stretch, bikes share either the sidewalk with pedestrians and streetlight poles, or the street with drivers hurrying toward the highway.

Richard Anderson, a member of the Loring Park task force that helped launch and partially fund the $3 million bridge, said plans are underway to rebuild the sidewalk in front of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 519 Oak Grove St., redesign the entrance to Loring Park and look at the "dangerous intersection" at West 15th Street & Hennepin Avenue, just before the park. Work could start as early as this fall, Anderson said.

There will be a ribbon-cutting for the new bridge on Saturday, Oct. 8, adjacent to Vision Loss Resources Center, 1936 Lyndale Ave., according to John Jensen of the Lowry Hill East (Wedge) Neighborhood Association (LHENA). For the exact time, call LHENA at 377-5023.

Jensen added that a public arts project and Bryant Avenue signage would be done in Spring 2006

LHENA contributed $126,000 to the project; Citizens for a Loring Park Neighborhood kicked in $63,590.