That dividing highway

Now that we are seeing the development of the resurfacing project that is Hwy. 61,it gives us a very real picture of the finished project. It will be very beautiful; we see trees going in, grasses planted, cement stained in interesting patterns and signage.
This is still a highway that divides White Bear Lake from itself, one side from another. Some of us wanted a more accessible highway, a highway that would slow traffic down, a highway that would be inclusive of bicyclists and not hostile to pedestrians. Beautiful and functional too.
Turns out that MNDOT has laws that agree with the basic tenet of shared roadways when those roadways are reconstructed. How is it that MNDOT seemingly has immunity from its own laws?

When You Reason with a Bureaucracy and No One Listens

 

Kudos to the inspired resident who, on a whim I am told, began a new Facebook page, ” Take Back Hwy 61 in White Bear Lake.” The response has been intense with several hundred “likes” in less than a week. None of us enjoy construction, but the underlying distain for the “beautification” of the road over a more inclusive use of available corridor space is rising to the surface quickly.

NE Bike Walk has been involved for sometime in trying to understand the decision making behind the road design and its car-centric disposition. Does City Hall value commuters more than residents? Why was over $2 million allocated for a project that requires on-going maintenance, uses precious lake water and places hard objects, like big welcoming signs, in the median?

The City/MNDOT plan for Highway 61 was unveiled to the public in the Fall of 2013 a few months before the project would close and no changes would be accepted.

Here is a copy of the letter White Bear Lake Bike Walk Taskforce members sent to the City Council in the Fall of 2013 looking to start a dialogue about how to design the road so the community of White Bear Lake would receive the best possible return.

To WBL Council Members