By Kayla Grover
Community voices were heard on February 9th, as members of the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis voted to support a Hennepin County project to redesign the intersection of Franklin, Cedar, and Minnehaha Avenues, just down the street from the Sierra Club office. This intersection has been a safety concern for years, with one of the highest rates of bicycle/pedestrian/vehicle collisions in the state. The community’s majority vote to support the project also serves as a vote of support for the safety of everyone who does not or cannot drive – which is 30 – 40% of Minnesotans.
As awareness of the health and environmental benefits of using different transportation choices increases, making positive steps to ensure the wellbeing of people who bicycle, walk and use the bus or train is more needed than ever. The proposed plan will close a small portion of Minnehaha and realign the intersection to reduce the accident rate. This particular intersection, besides being very dangerous, is incredibly important to the community. It is, as one resident put it, “Seward’s gateway to the light rail system.” As it currently stands, people trying to access the Franklin Avenue Blue Line Station or the Hiawatha bike trail must risk endangering themselves to navigate the intersection without a car. Improving the safety of this intersection can only serve to make access to transit easier for everyone in the community, as well as making the community itself more inviting to those who travel by light rail.
The support of this project, which coincides with necessary repairs to the intersection, reaffirms the value Seward places on the wellbeing of its residents, as well as reflecting broader Minneapolis values. Bicycling and transit are a big part of what make this city accessible, enjoyable, and good for the environment. Thank you to the Seward Neighborhood Group, our allies, and local Sierra Club members for the hard work that has gone into designing this project throughout years of debate, and to those who came out to the meeting for voting in the best interests of your city and environment.
Kayla Grover is an intern with the Land Use and Transportation Committee and a student at Augsburg College in the Urban Studies program.