Plans discussed for Dinkytown Bypass

by Chris Vetter

Several Dinkytown business members and Marcy-Holmes residents met Tuesday night to discuss plans for a new road that might route traffic out of Dinkytown and into the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood northwest of the East Bank campus.
The road, called the Dinkytown Bypass, is part of a larger road construction plan called the East-West parkway that would connect Energy Park Drive in St. Paul to Oak Street in Minneapolis.
This road would be used primarily by large trucks from the 300-acre industrial area just north of the East Bank campus.
The Dinkytown Bypass would continue the proposed East-West parkway so that it would pass under Dinkytown, along the railroad tracks and empty onto Interstate 35W or Second Avenue South. It is not clear how the bypass would connect with Interstate 35W because no definite plans have been drawn yet.
Members of the Southeast Economic Development committee have worked on the proposed road since mid-1995 and will give their final proposal to the Minneapolis City Council after voting on it July 15. Neighborhood members and businesses have until July 1 to file comments on the proposal.
Business owners are concerned that they will lose customers if the proposed road reduces the traffic through Dinkytown. The bypass has no planned exits for traffic to enter Dinkytown.
Leah Cutter, the Dinkytown Business Association administrative coordinator, said the plan would be agreeable if the road is used only by trucks and is two lanes wide.
“If this is a four-lane major highway, Dinkytown could become a ghost town,” Cutter said.
Pat Kelly, aide to Minneapolis City Council member Joan Campbell, Ward 7, said the road would not be four lanes wide because it must run alongside the existing railroad and there is not enough room for four lanes.
Ann O’Loughlin of University Community Relations, and a member of the SEED committee, said it is important that the road be for trucks.
“If we are only talking about taking truck traffic out of the neighborhoods, it would be desirable,” O’Loughlin said. “We have to think of who else would use this roadway.”
The SEED report estimated 8,000 vehicles would use the bypass daily, but didn’t state how many of those vehicles would be trucks. Kelly said she would commission a study to examine truck use on Second Avenue, then use that information to estimate how many trucks would use the bypass.
The Marcy-Holmes neighborhood is concerned about additional traffic that the bypass might create. Any traffic from the bypass that does not go on Interstate 35W would enter the Marcy-Holmes area on Second Avenue west of the interstate, increasing the flow of traffic in that neighborhood.
Cordelia Peirson, the Marcy-Holmes representative on the SEED committee, said the bypass could create more traffic in her neighborhood as motorists use the East-West parkway as a shortcut to Minneapolis.
Kelly said the proposed road is good because it will reduce traffic through Dinkytown.
“It will take a lot of unnecessary traffic off of University and Fourth Street,” Kelly said. “The goal is to take traffic out of the neighborhoods.”
Kelly said the proposal has existed for a long time, and that fears about the proposed road are unfounded.
“There has been alarm generated in the neighborhood, and I think that is unfortunate,” Kelly said. “The whole objective of this project is to reduce neighborhood traffic. And that is getting lost in this alarmist talk.”
The Dinkytown Bypass and the East-West parkway are part of a larger project called the “master plan,” which focuses on improving the 300-acre industrial area.