Lyndale reconstruction delayed

The much-anticipated reconstruction of Lyndale Avenue from south of Minnehaha Creek Parkway to south of 31st Street has been delayed one year.

A disagreement between county and city officials about traffic signal installations and uncertainty about the engineering of the 50th Street and Lyndale Avenue intersection were among several reasons for the delay, said Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman.

&#8220It was a bunch of things that just weren't set that prevented construction this year,” she said.

The streetlight issue involves the Lyndale intersections at 31st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th streets. County planners want to replace traffic lights at those locations, but the city said traffic counts don't warrant lights at those intersections, Dorfman said.

She said she was embarrassed about the delay, which is not Lyndale Avenue's first.

Planning for the reconstruction of Lyndale has been in the works for a dozen years. The project was shelved in 1997 after a cold winter severely damaged the already weathered road, necessitating an emergency coat of blacktop. That surface has since deteriorated.

&#8220We have all been eager to see this road reconstruction project finally underway,” Dorfman said in an e-mail sent last month to residents along Lyndale. &#8220So it is with deep regret that I must inform you that it is going to take yet another year before we can begin the construction.”

Many residents were eager to see reconstruction begin this spring, said John Lhotka, who lives at 38th Street and Lyndale Avenue. Lhotka was a member of the Lyndale Streetscape Committee, a group of volunteers involved in surveying residents about lighting, trees, grass, sidewalk crossings, waste receptacles and other streetscape elements.

&#8220People were quite excited about the concept and excited that it was actually going to happen,” Lhotka said.

Matt Perry, who has overseen the Lyndale Streetscape Committee, said he was disappointed with the delay but willing to wait a year for planners to get the project right. He and other volunteers spent much of the last year meeting with residents, gathering streetscape survey results and seeking petition signatures for enhanced lighting.

He remembers skepticism from some of the residents he encountered.

&#8220When I was door-knocking to gather petitions, one of the things people said to me was ‘I will believe it when I see the earth-moving equipment come in,'” Perry said. &#8220And that is still echoing in my ears.”

Dorfman said construction is now scheduled for spring 2008.

&#8220One way or another I'm going to make this happen,” she said.

For more information about Lyndale reconstruction plans, go to the Hennepin County website, www.co.hennepin.us.