U balks at city’s

by John Adams

City officials planning on University contributions for a campus bike path are out of luck.
The chairman of the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee wants the University to contribute 20 percent of the funding for a project linking the St. Paul campus and the West Bank with a bike path.
Ray Jackson, an engineer for Facilities Management, said the University is not willing to pay for the bicycle path extension because they picked up the tab for the $200,000 transitway bicycle path two years ago.
This disagreement is one of many obstacles delaying the plan for the path.
The project, seven years in the making, was updated by the chairman of the Minneapolis Bicycle Advisory Committee, Jon Wertjes, at a Minneapolis Transportation and Public Works Committee meeting Friday.
If completed, the bicycle path would link all three campuses by extending the transitway bicycle path to the West Bank. The project is part of a city-wide bicycle plan involving six areas of trail improvements or path extensions in Minneapolis.
The path would run from the Wildcat parking lot near Mariucci Arena, where the transitway bike path currently ends, to near the Art Building.
On the way to the West Bank, the path will run along the railroad tracks and underneath a bridge at the intersection of 15th Avenue Southeast and Fourth Street Southeast in Dinkytown. It will then cross the Mississippi river via a former railroad bridge owned by the city.
Jackson said he received only a portion of the easement requests that the city will need from the University to complete the project. An easement allows the city to build across private property.
Wertjes said he hopes the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. and the University will approve the easements. But officials from both organizations said they are still waiting for easement requests from the city for several parts of the project.
Officials from Burlington Northern could not be reached for comment on Friday, which Jackson said is a typical response — or non-response — from the company.
“They don’t want bicycles near their trains, so their position is to not respond (to requests for easements),” Jackson said. He added that the University has had to go through the Office of General Counsel in the past to get the railroad company to speak with officials about an easement.
Part of the extension is paid for by a $500,000 federal grant given to cities to increase commuter options. Wertjes said he hoped the city could pay 80 percent of the project with the University picking up the remaining 20 percent. The project does not yet have a price tag.