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Fairview Avenue bike path to connect University to Roseville destinations
By widening and striping road shoulders, piecing together existing sidewalks and adding a few off-road shared pathways, the cities of Falcon Heights and Roseville and the University of Minnesota are creating a north-south bicycle route connecting County Road B2 with the University’s intercampus transitway in St. Paul. Bicyclists should be able to travel the entire route by late fall.
Much of the project will serve pedestrians, as well, especially around the Rosedale shopping area, where the passageway under Highway 36 will become more accessible to bus riders and walkers as well as to bikes.
“The dirt path under Highway 36 on the east side showed that there is a huge demand for both pedestrians and bicyclists to get to the mall,” said Steve Clark of Transit for Livable Communities, the St. Paul nonprofit managing the 2008 grant that funds the bike path project.
That stretch, from B2 to County Road B, will accommodate bikes on sidewalks on the east side of Fairview Avenue and on a shared bike and pedestrian pathway on the west side of the street.
“I call this the fill-in-the-blanks project,” said Roseville city engineer Deb Bloom, who also serves as Falcon Heights city engineer via a contract between the two cities.
The north-south route along Fairview Avenue (in Roseville and Falcon Heights) and Gortner Avenue (on the university campus) will connect east-west routes along B2 in Roseville and between the St. Paul and Minneapolis university campuses.
“We just needed to get people to those east-west routes” from areas lying in between, Bloom said.
The route is expected to serve bicycle commuters, recreational users and students, among others, Bloom said. “We want to provide connections to retail for students and jobs—they potentially work at Rosedale or Target.”
The engineering firm T.A. Schifsky & Sons of North St. Paul is doing the work.
In addition to paths and lanes along Fairview in Roseville, the sidewalk on the north side of Larpenteur Avenue will be extended west of Cleveland Avenue on land owned by the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Gibbs Museum. It will serve the bus stop on that corner, Bloom said.
Path users will be able to find maps and other route details online at city and Transit for Livable Communities websites, Bloom said. “Look for a grand opening” this fall, she added.
The cities and the university will maintain their respective portions of the route, including winter snow removal, she said.
Steve Sanders, the University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services’ bicycle coordinator, said the university is paving the stretch of Gortner Avenue between Folwell Avenue and Larpenteur to coincide with the bike project and adding sidewalks along that stretch. “People have been asking for that for a long time,” he said.
The university will also add lighting along Folwell, which turned out to be a challenge in the design stage, Sanders said. “There are light-sensitive areas there, in the experimental fields,” he said, referring to crops that could be affected by changes in light. “We proposed a lighting scheme, and the researchers looked at it.”
Existing bike striping on Gortner is being refreshed and updated as part of the Fairview project.
He added that the Fairview-Gortner bike route will be connected all the way into downtown Minneapolis when the University transitway is connected with an old railroad bridge across the river.
The repurposing of Northern Pacific’s Bridge #9 for bike use is part of the city of Minneapolis’ University of Minnesota Trail, with construction expected to start next spring, Sanders said.
“For people who live in the northern suburbs and work downtown, they’ll be able to bike all the way,” he said.
Bloom’s job with both the cities of Roseville and Falcon Heights is a good example of recent efforts by small municipalities to partner with larger ones for cost savings, she said. Between Falcon Heights, Roseville, the university and Transit for Livable Communities, she said, “This was a great opportunity for partnering.”
That partnership was one reason the project was chosen to receive funding, according to Clark of Transit for Livable Communities.
“This project was selected over many others because the applicants showed it had a strong potential to encourage more people to walk and bicycle in this area—and not just college students, but residents and also kids traveling to [Brimhall] elementary school,” he said.
“We were also impressed by the multi-jurisdictional partnership: three cities and the university all coming together in submitting this proposal to us,” Clark said. “It was great to see the cooperation.”
Anne Holzman is a resident of St. Anthony Park and a regular contributor to the Park Bugle.
© 2012 Park Bugle