Design vision includes land bridge over Lake Street near Calhoun

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October 23, 2012 by Sarah M

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A new vision for the north side of Lake Calhoun includes a land bridge over Lake Street, where bicyclists, walkers and runner could cross the busy street at Thomas Avenue and link up with the Midtown Greenway and Lake of the Isles (Drawing from LHB)

By Nick Halter

Imagine a 150-foot wide land bridge over Lake Street near the Calhoun Beach Club, where bicyclists, walkers and runners could link up with the Midtown Greenway and Lake of the Isles.

It’s one of several ideas formulated by architects, Minneapolis Park Board staff, residents and stakeholders at a recent design charrette. After several days of input, architecture firm LHB released 43 pages of drawings illustrating how to make the land north of Lake Calhoun and south of Lake of the Isles safer and easier to use. 

Other major ideas include a pedestrian bridge that runs parallel with the Lake Street bridge over the lagoon between to the two lakes. Such a bridge would simplify a spaghetti junction at the northeast corner of Lake Calhoun, where bike paths and walking trails cross.

The sailing club, boat rental facility and boat launch would be moved from the northeast corner of the lake to the northwest corner, according to the drawings. Calhoun Parkway would be moved further from the lake near the Calhoun Executive Center to make more space for the relocated facilities.

If some of the plans sound ambitious, it’s because they are. But Park Board officials say it’s a very long-term vision for the area.

 “The major infrastructure improvements or changes would be years away, but I think there’s things we can do in the short term to make things safer and better,” said Deb Bartels, project manager for the Park Board. “(We want to) emphasize that we are years away from building anything new.”

The Park Board has earmarked $3.7 million for improvements to the Chain of Lakes in 2015 and 2016. That likely won’t come close to covering what is included in the sketches.

The area in question is one of the busiest crossroads in the state, where all kinds of recreation and transportation intersects. Nearly 40,000 vehicles travel Lake Street at Lake Calhoun every day. A 2011 study showed 1.3 million bikers, walkers, runners and others use Lake Calhoun annually, Bartels said.

The land bridge would solve some of the issues created by the converging traffic. The sketches show a bridge at Thomas Avenue with long, gradual ramps and a lowered Lake Street so that users wouldn’t have to fight steep hills.

Park Board staff plans to continue taking input on the drawings and eventually come forward to the Park Board with a series of recommendations for re-designing the area.

Comments may be sent to Bartels at dbartels@minneapolisparks.org or Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55411.

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