Green digest // Making Bryant a bike boulevard

Making Bryant a bike boulevard

CARAG — If you bike, live or work along Bryant Avenue South take note: An upcoming public meeting is your chance to contribute to plans for a future bicycle boulevard.

City planners expect to make changes to the street this summer that will make the north-south street more bike-friendly. Area residents have an opportunity to voice their opinions on some of those changes 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at Bryant Square Park, 3101 Bryant Ave. S.

New pavement markings and signage to identify the bicycle boulevard are a given, but other elements intended to slow vehicle traffic and improve the safety of intersections will be put to a vote. Ballots will ask voters to rank new street features such as curb extensions, zig-zagging chicanes, traffic circles and “speed humps” (like a speed bump but longer and flat on top).

Two sections of Bryant Avenue South are set to become bike boulevards: between Lake Street and the Loring Bikeway Bridge, which crosses Lyndale Avenue just north of Franklin Avenue; and between 50th and 58th streets. Bryant between Lake and 50th streets won’t get the bicycle boulevard designation, but changes for that section of street will also be up for discussion.

Federal funding through the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program will cover the bicycle boulevard improvements, said Shaun Murphy, who coordinates that program for the city.

Those who miss the meeting can still complete a ballot and submit it to city planners. Go to the Bryant Avenue South bicycle boulevard page on the city website (ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles/BryantAveBikeBlvd.asp) to download and print a ballot.

The page includes information on submitting a ballot, as well as instructions for sending comments directly to Murphy.

Ballots must be submitted by Feb. 16.

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Rybak to Geithner: Help us create green jobs

Mayor R.T. Rybak took advantage of U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s Jan. 28 visit to Minnesota to push for approval of a $37-million green-jobs grant, the city reported.

Minneapolis’ application for a federal Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant asks for funding to reduce the energy consumption in half of all buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul within the next decade. The work was expected to create 1,300 new jobs.

Rybak called the project a “triple win” for the metro area, explaining that it would not only create new jobs but also reduce energy costs for local businesses and reduce total carbon emissions, according to a copy of his statement released after the meeting with Geithner.

Rybak estimated the energy efficiency improvements could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 225,000 metric tons within the first three years of the program.

The mayor also pushed for “specialized financing tools” to spur investment in green manufacturing businesses. He identified the reduced credit flow as “the biggest gap in growing the green economy,” according to the statement.

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Green jobs training for those in need

If Rybak’s pitch to Geithner helps to earn Minneapolis new money for green jobs, those funds will be added to a different grant announced earlier in the month. Minneapolis won a share of $150 million in Department of Labor grants awarded in January to train workers for green jobs.

The $4 million Pathways Out of Poverty grant will be used to train unemployed young adults without a high school diploma, veterans and people living in poverty to work in the energy-efficiency and renewable-energy industries. The grant to Minneapolis was intended to provide job training and basic education to about 500 participants.

Training will be in the fields of energy-efficient construction and retrofitting, building maintenance, recycling and sustainable manufacturing.

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Record-level recycling

A record 120,000 customers brought household hazardous waste items to the Hennepin County drop-off facilities in Bloomington and Brooklyn Park in 2009, the county reported in January.

The total included customers who participated in community collection events, and amounted to an 11-percent increase over 2008. County residents safely disposed of about 6,000 tons of household hazardous waste, like leftover paint, used batteries and electronics.

Collection of consumer electronics items jumped 22 percent over 2008. That category added up to about 3,200 tons of old computers, TVs and cell phones, more than half the household hazardous waste collected by weight.

To locate a county drop-off site, or to find information on how to properly dispose of a variety of items, visit hennepin.us/dropoffs.