By Kevin Collison
The City Council has approved funding to plan a protected bike lane on Grand Boulevard between the South Loop and Crown Center, the first step toward implementing the “Making Grand Grand” vision hatched over a decade ago.
The money for the Grand Boulevard bike lane through the Crossroads District is part of a $1.1 million contract awarded to Veenstra and Kimm that also includes planning for three trail projects in the Northland.
It’s described by the city as the “first phase of the ‘Making Grand Grand‘ concept approved years ago by the Parks Board.
That concept calls for revitalizing what was a signature civic avenue that once lived up to its name, but now resembles a drab concrete runway.
Grand would become an attractive corridor that reduces the number of traffic lanes in order to add bicycle lanes, widen sidewalks and introduce more landscaping.
“It’s been eight or nine years ago when the Parks Department did the Making Grand Grand plan that called for road dieting and cycle lanes,” said Wes Minder, assistant city manager.
The city’s first attempt at implementing part of the proposal, painting bicycle lanes on Grand in 2017, was described as a “fiasco” by Minder. The paint wore off leaving only faint reminders and providing cyclists little security.
Now, the plan calls for building a protected, two-way bicycle lane for the eight-block Crossroads stretch between Truman Road and Pershing Road similar to the one recently completed along Gillham Road.
Minder said the project also plans to add landscaped curb “bump outs” at the intersections of 18th and 20th streets.
The planning money will allow the city to come up with an accurate budget for building the project, which Minder said may not be completed for three- to four years. He said the timing depends on potential federal funding and the city’s street resurfacing schedule.
As for the remainder of Grand, the funding includes planning to continue the bike lanes into Crown Center, which Minder said will be a more challenging stretch than the wide open street between Truman and Pershing.
As for the central business district and River Market, while the bike path is ultimately proposed for running that entire stretch of Grand, no funding is in the works for planning that route at this point.
“Because of budget constraints, we want to focus on the south portion of Grand and pick up on the momentum of Gillham,” Minder said.
He added the planned protected bike lane would connect the proposed South Loop Link with Crown Center.
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