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?

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Connection – they did it in St. Paul

With the asphalt-shredders, cement and landscape contractors waiting close by, it is now time to say good bye to the old Hwy 61 that divides White Bear Lake literally in two and install the new Hwy 61 overlay. For the pedestrian, the bicyclist and anyone wanting to cross to the other side to enjoy amenities not found on the side they are on, it will still be a hostile go. But it will be a fine homage to our gasping love affair with the automobile; the speed limit will remain unchanged at 40 mph and the medians will be lovely. Hopefully no one will get hurt crossing at the new and improved pedestrian crosswalks.

Efforts ¬†including a last-ditch round with a MNDOT ombudsman to get some safety for bikers and walkers have been stonewalled so far. Is it too late? Perhaps we need to take a lesson from some active and engaged St. Paulites. The “I-35E East Side Trail Extension” ¬†at the Cayuga interchange agreement with MNDOT is for bicyclists, walking people and for those who use wheelchairs to get around.The old Gateway Trail/Soo Line railroad bridge across the interstate will not be reopened or replaced, as some had hoped but there is an agreement in place to connect the East Side with everyone else.

That effort took “tons and tons of meetings”. We would be happy with tons and tons of meetings…If enough citizens voice their opinion, perhaps the project could be delayed until these issues are fairly and honestly addressed.