Green Digest // Midtown Greenway resurfacing leads to detours

A first-ever resurfacing of the Midtown Greenway will temporarily close sections of the bicycle and pedestrian corridor during a three-week period in August.


The project was scheduled for completion in several phases, each of which will require a section of the trail to close for two or three days. Work was to begin Aug. 13 near Lake Calhoun on the eastern end of the trail and progress

westward to Highway 55 by the end of the month, “weather permitting,” said Simon Blenski, a city bicycle and pedestrian planner.


The 5.5-mile Midtown Greenway runs through a below-grade trench along a former rail corridor. Much of the trail surface is about a decade old at this point.


The oldest section of trail opened between Chowen and 5th avenues in 2000. The newest and westernmost section, running between the Hiawatha Avenue and the Mississippi River, opened in 2006, and the landmark Martin Olav Sabo

Bridge that carries cyclists and pedestrians over Hiawatha Avenue was completed a year later.


Most of the paved trail surface is still in good condition, Blenski said.


“The first part that was built, over by the lakes, used a different type of aggregate, so you might notice over there it’s a little bumpier than the newer sections to the east,” Blenski said. “So that section is in need of some work.”


He said maintenance crews also filled in some low spots on the trail in the Midtown area. The low spots tended to fill with rainwater in the summer and ice in the winter — a problem for a trail that is used year round.


Blenski said the resurfacing should be good for another 10 years of use. The former rail corridor is owned by Hennepin County, but the city is responsible for maintenance of the trail, he said.


Information on trail closures and official detour routes can be found at The Midtown Greenway Coalition was also posting updates on its website,


The Midtown Greenway consistently ranks as one of the city’s busiest bicycle corridors, and the closures could inconvenience hundreds or even thousands of cyclists who commute along the corridor each day. The city has conducted

annual bicycle and pedestrian counts in various locations since 2007, and last year two locations along the Midtown Greenway each averaged nearly 3,500 trips per day, making them two of the city’s top-five busiest biking spots.


“That’s a big deal,” Blenski said. “It’s kind of like closing [Interstate] 94, I feel, except for bikes.”




Tour de Fat raises $19,000


A Colorado brewery’s annual cross-country tour celebrating bicycles and beer raised $19,000 for four local biking nonprofits during a July 28 stop in Loring Park.


Tour de Fat proceeds were split by the Midtown Greenway Coalition, Minnesota Off Road Cyclists, Minneapolis Off Road Cycling and the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. It was the fourth time New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo.,

had Minneapolis on its Tour de Fat itinerary, which this year included stops in 15 cities.


Tour de Fat’s Minneapolis stop drew about 3,000 attendees, a 50-percent increase over the roughly 2,000 people who gathered in Loring Park last year, the brewer reported. About 800 people participated in the costumed bike parade,

an annual tradition.


This year’s Tour de Fat wraps up with an Oct. 20 stop in Austin, Texas. New Belgium didn’t report a fundraising tally for this year’s tour so far, but in 2011 it raised over $400,000 for nonprofits in the cities it visited.




Lobbying to protect the climate


LINDEN HILLS — Paul Thompson recently returned from a mid-summer trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with much of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation to talk about one issue: climate change.


Thompson was one of 175 citizen volunteers from across the U.S. and Canada who, as members of the Citizens Climate Lobby, urged members of congress to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions. One approach promoted

by the non-profit, nonpartisan lobby is a carbon tax in the form of the Carbon Fee and Dividend Act, a plant to collect fees on fossil fuels and distribute the revenue in the form of dividend checks to each U.S. household.


“We’re not demonizing the fossil fuel companies,” Thompson said. “They’re providing a product that we’re demanding. We have to shift the demand, and in order to do that people have to get really engaged.”


Among others, Thompson met with Democratic Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R–6th District), Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL–5th District) and Rep. Tim Walz (DFL–1st District).


Thompson lives in Edina’s Morningside neighborhood and leads a local chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby that meets noon–2 p.m. every first Saturday of the month at Linden Hills Park. (The September meeting will take place on

the second Saturday due to the Labor Day holiday.)


To learn more about the lobby and their recent conference, go to or e-mail Thompson directly at [email protected]