MINNEAPOLIS -- The city is spending 42 percent more for street repair and construction in 2013, according to Mayor R.T. Rybak.
Three miles of city streets are being totally reconstructed, while another 40 miles are being resurfaced or seal coated.
The investment is being paid for with a combination of city bonding, state gas tax revenue and property assessments. Major projects include reconstructing Penn Avenue from 54th Street west to Highway 62 and Nicollet Avenue South from Lake to 36th Streets.
An entire section of streets including Winter Street NE are in the process of being totally reconstructed. Many of them have never really been paved before.
"It is what we refer to as unpaved streets. So, that we never actually went in and constructed them as a permanent street," said Steve Kotke, Minneapolis Director of Public Works. "It was something referred to as oil/dirt or unpaved sections."
Rybak, Kotke and Council member Don Samuels showed reporters the almost completed Van White Memorial Boulevard, which includes a bridge. The $22.3 million project is named for Minneapolis' first African-American council member.
"In a way, it is really great that this is a bridge because Van White was a bridge between the old Minneapolis and the new Minneapolis," said Samuels.
He joked that the bridge has other attributes besides transportation. "It is now exposing Bassett Creek to all of the pedestrians and people biking by," said Samuels. "It is a great romantic spot. I expect a lot of lovers to stop here over the course of the summer."
Rybak responded by noting that perhaps the Council should hold its meetings there and "be happy."
Rybak also praised the symbolic meaning of the bridge which will serve to bridge the barrier of I-394 to two vital sections of the city.
"You are standing on a bridge, " he told reporters, "that is a lot more than a transportation investment. It is a reconnection of North and South Minneapolis in a historic re-healing of the city."
The Van White Memorial Boulevard connects highway 55 to Dunwoody Boulevard, bridging over rail tracks and passing under I-394.
Eventually, the city leaders noted, they hope there will be a Southwest Corridor Light Rail Station along the Boulevard to give local residents access to Saint Paul and the Minneapolis/Saint Paul Airport, as well as the Mall of America and the State Capitol.
For complete traffic updates and information, go to www.minneapolismn.gov/publicworks/traffic.
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