’25+ years in the making’: Public input begins for proposed trail bridge over Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Public input begins for proposed trail bridge over Mississippi River in Minneapolis

Public input begins for proposed trail bridge over Mississippi River in Minneapolis

The public was asked to weigh in for the first time Monday on a proposed pedestrian bridge over the Mississippi River that would connect Minneapolis’ Northside to the Northeast neighborhoods.

It’s one of several projects along the Above the Falls Regional Park area, and it’s been at least 25 years in the making, according to a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board feasibility report. Although public comment took place at Broken Clock Brewing in Northeast, it’s the Northside that is expected to see the biggest impact.

For much of Minneapolis’ Northside, the Mississippi River is hardly accessible, and it’s even tougher to find a pedestrian path over the river.

“It was kind of one of those things where the freeway went in and separated all of us,” explained Northside City Council member LaTrisha Vetaw on Monday. “You know, just like, ‘those people stay over there, and we’ll be over here’ type of thing.”

That inequity is part of the purpose behind the proposed bridge, said Tyler Pederson, design project manager with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

“I-94 and industry has really cut off those residents from the natural resource here,” he added.

As it stands, the Broadway Avenue Bridge at the southern edge of the Northside is it until you hit the Lowry Avenue Bridge and a nearby BNSF rail bridge. The proposed pedestrian bridge would fit in between the two.

“So there’s just a gap here, and it’s a great enough distance to really warrant a new crossing for humans and not necessarily cars,” Pederson said, adding that the project is “kind of modeling a little bit after the Stone Arch Bridge and kind of the character of that, and how it feels.”

The bridge would have one end at a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board-owned property at 1720 Marshall Street Northeast — which Pederson said will eventually be converted into a park. The other end would line up with The Overlook at 26th Avenue North.

Vetaw, supportive of additional connections over the river on the Northside, said she would prefer to see a bridge further north that would also reach residents she represents in Ward 4.

“I think this is a missed opportunity for, you know, like I said, the most northern part, for us to really think about the entire Northside and not just think about Near North or you know, Broadway or close to Broadway,” she explained.

Ward 5 Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison — who represents the area where the bridge is proposed to be located — briefly stated that he’s “always been a champion of the Above the Falls plan.” Barring a “strong case” made against the location, he supports the pedestrian bridge project as preliminarily proposed, he said.

There’s a lot still up in the air as the public weighs in for the first time, including where the money would come from. That’s expected to come up during the upcoming legislative session, Pederson said.

Construction isn’t expected for at least a few years. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has a second public engagement session scheduled for Tuesday. Site tours are also scheduled for Saturday.

“There’s also the project website,” Pederson added. “We’ll have comment forms and a lot of this material on the website later today or tomorrow,” he said on Monday, adding that he expects to keep those available online for two weeks.