Mar 18, 2024 - News

Advocates win planning grant to redesign Olson Memorial Highway

A rendering of the Minneapolis skyline with a streetscape in the foreground with red bus lanes running along the street, and mid-rise buildings lining pedestrian walkways and a tree-lined boulevard.

A rendering of a reimagined Olson Memorial Highway corridor. Image courtesy Our Streets MPLS

The federal government awarded $1.6 million to a Minneapolis advocacy group to study redeveloping Olson Memorial Highway as a transit- and pedestrian-oriented boulevard.

Why it matters: Highway 55 is currently one of Minneapolis' deadliest streets. Advocates want to address that and restore a long-lost commercial district that the highway paved over.

Context: MnDOT is already making plans to narrow the highway, which the 1990s construction of I-394 made redundant.

  • Sahan Journal reported on design concepts for added bus, pedestrian, and bike paths along the route.

The latest: Our Streets Minneapolis would use the federal grant to take these plans a step further.

What they're saying: "Our goal is to build momentum and help other communities dismantle urban highways in the Twin Cities and across the state," Our Streets executive director José Antonio Zayas Cabán said in a statement.

The intrigue: MnDOT also received a $3.6 million planning grant from the same federal program to study bus rapid transit on a longer stretch of Highway 55 between Minneapolis and Medina.

  • "These could be complimentary, not competing" projects, said Our Streets' communications manager Carly Ellefsen.

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