Sixth Avenue to get a facelift for bikers

A student group helped design new landscaping for part of the road.

Elizabeth Smith

Bikers and pedestrians who frequent the two-block stretch of Sixth Avenue Southeast that runs near the Stone Arch Bridge will get updated scenery come May.

Area leaders voted to put more than $5,000 toward planting flowers and grasses along the street in an effort to make the unsightly stretch between University Avenue Southeast and Main Street Southeast more attractive and help promote the city’s bike paths.

The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association voted on Tuesday to use funds it received in 1994 from the Minneapolis Neighborhood
Revitalization Program to fund the project.

Cordelia Pierson, a member of the organization, is heading the project. She said she hopes restoring the scenery on Sixth Avenue Southeast, combined with new signage along the Dinkytown Greenway, will help bring attention to the city’s bikeways.

“Our little two-block portion is part of something bigger in our city’s bicycle [and] pedestrian system,” Pierson said.

Students for Design Activism, a University of Minnesota organization that provides students with the opportunity to make designs for the community, drafted the area’s new look.

SDA and neighborhood volunteers will begin work on the project in mid-May.

Luke Nichols, a first-year graduate student in the landscape architecture program was one of the four students who made the design. He said the group picked native, drought-resistant plants that grow well on their own and fit with the neighborhood’s desired color palette — which includes blues, purples and oranges.

“It’s exciting to see something that you designed get equated to numbers,” Nicholas said, “but the really exciting part will be getting to see it put into the ground.”

The street currently serves as a scenic route that connects East River Road and the Stone Arch Bridge, Pierson said.

The neighborhood association hopes to eventually connect the two areas with a bike path along the Mississippi River Trail, which runs from Itasca, Minn., to the Gulf of Mexico.

The University District Alliance, which consists of five University-area neighborhood associations, plans to make the connection a priority, said Doug Carlson, MHNA’s vice president and its representative for the UDA.

Marcy-Holmes is also using $42,500 it received in 2014 from the University’s Good Neighbor Fund to add signage to the Dinkytown Greenway.

The city will spend about $10,000 to add 40 signs throughout the neighborhood and along the greenway this spring, said Minneapolis bicycle planner Simon Blenski.

“One of the key things that we have learned over time about our neighborhood is that connections to the river are really important,” Pierson said.