Minnehaha master plan backs off parkway changes

Minnehaha Creek
The initial proposed master plan for Minnehaha Creek and Lynnhurst Park called for removing the tunneled portion of the tributary between Lake Harriet and the creek, seen dumping out here in June.

After months of loud resistance, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has proposed new design concepts that maintain continuous vehicle access on Minnehaha Parkway.

The Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan, a 20-year plan to shape the parkland around the creek, has faced delays in its Community Action Committee (CAC) process due to opposition to proposals to limit through-traffic along Minnehaha Parkway in Southwest and to remove a one-way stretch of parkway that runs under the Nicollet Avenue bridge.

The CAC took a hiatus while a traffic study was conducted to examine the impact of those proposed changes, and while planners said they were confident the plans would not significantly alter traffic flow in Southwest, the new design concepts eliminate proposed barriers to divert vehicles at Humboldt and Portland avenues and maintain the parkway road under the Nicollet Avenue bridge.

In December, MPRB commissioners rejected a measure that would have prevented the CAC from altering vehicle traffic.

The revised concepts call for a two-way parkway near Lynnhurst Park south of 50th Street, with a realigned three-way stop intersection intended to promote safer crossings for pedestrians and cyclists.

The bridge over that two-way stretch between 50th and 51st streets would be raised above the creek and floodplain in the new design. Earlier proposals had called for removing that section of the parkway, which likely would have diverted traffic to James Avenue via 51st Street. 

The new design concepts suggest moving the proposed play area under the Nicollet Avenue bridge slightly west. The area would be accessible by a new pedestrian bridge over the creek from Belmont Avenue and have a nature-play space, restroom facilities and ADA-accessible creek access for paddlers.