Tell MnDOT and Olson Memorial Highway decision makers to Bring Back 6th!

September 6, 2022 UPDATE: The Minnesota Department of Transportation, City of Minneapolis, and Hennepin County have launched a temporary pilot project that falls well short of the community’s demands and expectations for safety improvements on Olson Memorial Highway, and includes no public commitment to Bring Back 6th!

These agencies came together to intentionally destroy, displace, and harm the community for 90 years. It is time they come together to repair it. Send an email today!

About Bring Back 6th:

Olson Memorial Highway, or Highway 55, is an urban highway running through North Minneapolis. It is one of many urban highways that divides communities, pollutes the environment, and creates a hazardous environment for nearby residents. Olson Memorial Highway has a uniquely devastating history, as the construction of the highway was at the expense of a thriving Black cultural corridor along 6th Avenue N that was home to dozens of shops, businesses and music venues.

Some of these concerns were to be addressed with the construction of the Blue Line Light Rail Extension on Olson Memorial Highway. The light rail project was set to bring modest but much needed traffic safety improvements as well as robust public transit service. However, after years of planning and development, the Metropolitan Council re-routed the Blue Line Extension and planned safety and transit improvements disappeared. Harrison and other Near North neighborhoods are now left to deal with the negative impacts of this broken promise.

Our Streets Minneapolis and the Harrison Neighborhood Association are leading a campaign to address the harms of Olson Memorial Highway and reclaim the highway land to reconstruct 6th Avenue N.

Send a letter to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, the Metropolitan Council, and relevant elected officials and partners to share your support for the Bring Back 6th! vision. This includes the following outcomes:

1. The Implementation of ALL Phase 1 safety improvements and for these changes to remain in place until the corridor is fully reconstructed. These include:

  • Restripe the roadway to reduce lane widths and add dedicated transit and bike lanes
  • Lower the posted speed limit to 25 mph
  • Improve lighting for pedestrians
  • Mark crosswalks at all intersections and mid-block crossings
  • Mark crosswalks with artist designed crosswalks, employing local Northside artists
  • Add leading pedestrian intervals and adjust walk signal timing so everyone, including people who are mobility impaired and parents with small children, have adequate time to cross the street
  • Use paint and bollards to add pedestrian bump-outs on cross streets

2. Restore Olson Memorial Highway to 6th Avenue North

We are asking the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, the Metropolitan Council and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority to collaborate on the restoration of 6th Avenue North.

The new street should include:

  • 24/7 zero-fare bus lanes
  • A two-way bikeway
  • Two car lanes to promote safe speeds, with left turn lanes where necessary
  • Raised crosswalks painted with artwork from local artists
  • Universal design features to improve access for people of all ages and abilities
  • Wide sidewalks
  • The preservation of mature trees in the center median
  • The remaining highway land and adjacent parcels of publicly owned land should be designated for:
  • Public housing that meets the needs for truly affordable housing
  • Publicly owned affordable commercial spaces that are designated for local businesses and entrepreneurs
  • Community gardens and parkland

3. Public Commitment

The Minnesota Department of Transportation wrote a letter recognizing the highway’s harms and indicating that they would consider turning Olson Memorial Highway back into a city street (6th Avenue North). We are asking for a public commitment from City and County officials, as well as MnDOT to publicly commit to restore 6th Avenue North and implement ALL housing and community engagement benchmarks.

These include:

  • A robust community engagement plan that includes door-to-door engagement and publicly meetings during accessible hours
  • Equitable community-driven development
  • A local business incubator program
  • Inclusive hiring goals
  • Universal design
  • Construction impact mitigation plan
  • Anti-displacement policies and tenant protections

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