New option for bikes will bridge campus

by Nathan Whalen

Bicyclists will soon have another option when traveling between the University’s East and West banks.
Bridge No. 9, an abandoned railroad bridge located between the Washington Avenue and 10th Avenue bridges, is being turned into a bike and pedestrian path by the city of Minneapolis.
On the East Bank, the path will follow the same route as the railroad tracks that run under the bridges in Dinkytown and will connect with the transitway path at Oak Street, said Jon Wertjes, a city transportation engineer.
The city has not yet decided on the final West Bank route.
Construction has already begun, and University officials estimate that the path will be completed by Spring 2000.
The pedestrian path is part of a city initiative called “The Dinkytown Bikeway Connection,” which is expected to make it safer and easier for pedestrian commuters traveling between the University and downtown.
The path will come at a good time because construction projects will block or reduce traffic across two other main bridges that serve the University.
Walkers and bikers will be diverted from the 10th Avenue Bridge while it undergoes repairs in the summer of 2000. During that time, construction will cut off bridge traffic either partially or completely, depending on the extent of the repairs, said Jim Stoutland, bridge engineer for the city of Minneapolis.
Also during the summer, bikers will be driven off Washington Avenue, perhaps literally. Traffic across that bridge will be reduced for painting, which will snarl traffic near the bridge and make on-street biking more dangerous.
The city has also deemed that current bike routes are unsafe and difficult to access. In some areas, bikers have to cross several lanes of traffic to merge onto a bike lane.
Even though it has been abandoned since 1981, Bridge No. 9 has managed to stay intact because it might be considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1922, the city acquired the bridge in 1986 from Burlington Northern, five years after it had fallen out of use.
The Dinkytown Bikeway Connection project began in 1997. Other suggestions for the bridge’s use included running a bus line across it, Wertjes said.

Nathan Whalen covers construction and facilities. He can be reached at [email protected]