Biking, Walking & Blogging: Local and National firms teaming up to create "shovel ready" bike/ped projectsBiking, Walking & Blogging: Local and National firms teaming up to create "shovel ready" bike/ped projects

Local and National firms teaming up to create "shovel ready" bike/ped projects

From Steve Clark, Bike Walk Twin Cities Program Manager


Question:  Where might one find the words,  "innovative," "state of the art," "cycle tracks," "walk and bike friendly," "green wave signalization," "road diet," "bike boxes," "walkability,"  "narrow travel lanes," "traffic calming,"  and "livability" all in one document?


Answer: In any one of nine proposals submitted recently by consulting firms hoping to secure a contract with BWTC to lead a process that would transform up to a dozen difficult streets or intersections into "Complete Street" models or add bikeways/walkways where none presently exist.  We received some excellent proposals!


You might recall that early in the year, BWTC issued a call to public agencies and non-profits to provide ideas for the most important corridors in need of improvement for bicyclists and pedestrians. Over 60 candidate projects were submitted and a ten person review committee narrowed this list down to 16, which TLC staff and Board members, working closely with managing authorities, whittled down further to just 12 projects.  In early June an RFP called "Improving Conditions for Walking and Bicycling Planning Study" was released with a July 15 deadline for proposals. 


Of particular interest is that many of the proposals came from local firms planning to team up with national leaders in walking and bicycling (and vice versa). This brings a welcomed depth of experience to the submittals. Interviews are set for Tuesday, August 2nd to determine which firms/teams will be selected to work with local jurisdictions, community groups, and BWTC to create engineering plans and/or feasibility reports that will hopefully lead to real changes on the ground and show the way to future improvements for similar challenges in other places.


Firms experienced in everything from designing cycle tracks in Washington DC to creating new design guidelines for National Association of Cities Transportation Officials (NACTO) will be vying for up to four distinct groups of projects. Consulting firms were asked to propose on one or more of the four groups listed below, with most choosing to submit a proposal for all four groups (12 projects in all).  


Group 1 - Potential Bike Lane Projects and Intersection Improvements for Pedestrians


44th, Penn, Osseo Intersection and Corridors Study (North Minneapolis, Robbinsdale)

This North Minneapolis location currently bans pedestrians from crossing several legs of the intersection. Additionally, the three corridors do not possess dedicated space for bicycling.  The purpose of this study is to show how improvements can be made for pedestrians and bicyclists and still allow for safe traffic operations at the intersection and beyond. Analysis should include crossing treatments at this complex intersection, and possible approaches to create bike lanes on one or more of the approach corridors and other design elements to enhance the safety of pedestrians and cyclists in this area.  Vendor will need to work with both county and city staff for the development of a 30 percent plan set.


Franklin Avenue Bike and Pedestrian Improvements Study (Minnehaha Ave to Hennepin Ave)

TLC seeks a broad approach that looks at Franklin corridor in its totality, analyzing multiple options and their impacts.  This approach should incorporate strong public engagement including design charettes with stakeholders. Improvements for pedestrians are also crucial for this project to fulfill its potential as a livable street model. A 30 percent plan set for bike lanes and feasibility analysis for other innovative design elements would be the desired outcome for this planning study. 


Hamline Bikeway (Edgecumbe Road in St. Paul through Roseville)

A 30 percent plan sets for southern section and ROW/feasibility analysis for RR crossing and segments further north is anticipated.  Feasibility analysis may need to include identifying legal issues that may require future legal consultation, such as negotiating with railroad companies for at grade crossings. Cost estimates for overpass may also need to be included in plan if at-grade crossing is deemed infeasible. Lane width reductions, parking lane removal and 4-3 lane conversion will all need to be analyzed as potential options for viable bikeway on this route.


Hennepin Ave S. bikeway extension (11th to Lyndale and to Loring Park)

This project should result in "90 percent" design plans building upon previous BWTC funded study showing bike lanes extending from current lanes on Hennepin at 11th St. to Lyndale Ave. S.  Some modifications from previous study may need to be made to ensure highest degree of safety and modal shift potential; City has previously engaged the community and has received support to drop a travel lane for the proposed treatments.  Other than the kick off meeting, no additional public involvement is anticipated in for this scope of work.


Group 2 - 'Friendly Streets'  (Bicycle Boulevard) type Projects


Central Corridor Friendly Streets and Campus Connector (St. Paul to Minneapolis)

This study would seek to provide bike/pedestrian improvements from Rice Street in St. Paul to the University of Minnesota Campus in Minneapolis along or parallel to University Avenue and would include an on-street or off-street connection to the Campus Transitway.  Several innovative public engagement strategies could support the development of a "friendly-street, bicycle boulevard" concept on Charles Avenue and other efforts would assess options where parallel routes do not exist. A report comparing options, ROW issues, costs and feasibility of desirable design elements as well as other relevant issues is expected.


10th or 11th or 12th Avenue Connector to Powderhorn Park and RiverLake Greenway (S. Minneapolis)

This project would extend from 24th Street in South Minneapolis to E. 40th Street. Treatments to be examined include all suitable bike boulevard elements and/or other innovative solutions to improve access, comfort and safety for bicyclists and pedestrians. A 30 percent plan set is expected as a deliverable for the most feasible option.


Marshall Ave Complete Street Project - Saint Paul (Snelling Ave to John Ireland Blvd)

30 percent plan set revealing 3-2 conversion on Marshall from Snelling to Victoria in order to add bike lanes and bicycle boulevard section from Victoria to Western.  Project will also need to include plans for a contra-flow bike lane on one way section of Marshall from Western to John Ireland Blvd. Other than the kick off meeting, no additional public involvement is anticipated  for this scope of work.


Group 3 - State Trunk Highway Complete Streets' Solutions Projects


Central Connection to Downtown Minneapolis  (Fridley, Columbia Heights, Northeast Minneapolis)

Develop a 30 percent plan set that would seek to provide safe and convenient on-street bikeway facilities through Fridley, Hilltop, Columbia Heights and NE Minneapolis and to downtown via Central Ave (Hwy 65) and Hennepin Ave/ 1st Ave Bridges that could begin to be implemented with a Mn/DOT mill and overlay project planned for November 2011.  4-3 lane conversion, and reduction in width of travel lanes will be analyzed along with other treatments that could improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians.



Snelling Ave. Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Audit and Plan (W. 7th to Como Ave - St. Paul)

Vendor would participate as technical resource for Mn/DOT and City of St. Paul on planned safety audit and to help develop low-cost solutions as well as long term strategies to make Snelling Avenue a safer street for pedestrians and bicyclists; bike and pedestrian counts, crash data analysis and field reviews of existing conditions are all anticipated in the scope of work required.  It is anticipated that there will be at least one public meeting where findings and recommendations will be presented jointly with Mn/DOT and City of St. Paul. A report containing a safety audit and recommendations is an expected deliverable.

Group 4 - Feasibility Analysis and off-street trail projects


Hiawatha Trail North Extension to Lake Street (E. 28th Street to E. 32nd Street)

This planning study will require working with Mn/DOT and other managing authorities on ROW issues and easement negotiations to continue off-street trail to Lake Street and beyond to 32nd Street. Study will need to address potential issues for east and west side options   A 30 percent plan set is desired.


Bluff Street/ 2nd Street Bike Walk Corridor (UM- Campus, Downtown Minneapolis)

The intent of this project is to connect the soon to be completed Univ. of Minnesota Trail to downtown Mpls and onwards to North Minneapolis via Bridge #9 (UM Trail's western terminus) and the 2nd Street corridor.  Current bike lanes on 2nd Street would be joined by off-street trails under and alongside 35W on the east and across the Gateway Park on the west.  On-street connectors would include Bluff Street on the east side of 35W to Bridge #9 and 2nd Street where gap exists just west of Gateway Park.  This study will involve an analysis of off-road options including ROW issues, feasibility of procuring easements and relative costs. 30 percent plan sets a desirable outcome for on-street segments and crossing treatments at major intersections.


Cleveland/Cretin/Vandalia Bikeway Plan Set (Hidden Falls Park to the Campus Transitway)

30 percent plan set and/or feasibility analysis would seek to demonstrate how bike lanes could be incorporated into this important north/south corridor through reprioritizing use of existing pavement; in addition, ROW analysis and related issues would be required to determine feasibility of off-street connection to Raymond bike lanes and to Campus Transitway.