August 10, 2012 by Sarah M
// By Dylan Thomas //
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 to three days. Work was to begin Aug. 13 near Lake Calhoun 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, that 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 ci.minneapolis.mn.us/bicycles/detours. The Midtown Greenway Coalition was also posting updates on its website, midtowngreenway.org.
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 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.”