Support safety improvements & community protections on Olson Memorial Highway

Every day, the design of Olson Memorial Highway puts people at risk. Changes are long overdue and watered down improvements are unacceptable.

Join us in calling on MnDOT to implement all of the demands that are outlined in phase one of the Bring Back 6th campaign. These changes are proven to reduce crashes, prevent speeding, and make walking, rolling, biking and driving more comfortable and convenient.

The requested near-term improvements include:

  • Restriping the roadway to one driving lane in each direction
  • Add dedicated transit and protected bike lanes
  • Lower the posted speed limit to 25 mph
  • Adding lighting for pedestrians
  • Mark crosswalks at all intersections and mid-block crossings
  • Install an asphalt art pavement pilot project at the Olson & Van White intersection, collaborating with community partners, including Summit Academy, Green Garden Bakery, Urban Strategies, Heritage Park Neighborhood Association and Harrison Neighborhood Association
  • 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
  • Improve transit service and frequency

We are also seeking a commitment from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council to collaborate on reparations for historic harms, and to collaborate on proactive anti-displacement and community benefit policies as part of the Olson Memorial Highway project. This must begin with the following actions:

  • $1 million investment in HNA’s Home Improvement Grant program to assist low-income homeowners in maintaining the habitability of their homes.
  • $1 million investment in HNA’s Down Payment Assistance Fund to assist residents in achieving homeownership.
  • $1 million investment in a Harrison Rental Assistance Fund.
  • Implementation of the infrastructure improvements outlined in the Van White and Penn Avenue Station Area Plans, which include sidewalk improvements, the construction of a community pavilion and picnic area at Van White Park, new heated bus shelters and lighting improvements throughout the neighborhood.
  • A moratorium on the sale of Harrison’s four city-owned garden lots to ensure continued community access to fresh and healthy produce.
  • A commitment of 300 project-based public housing vouchers to be applied to new housing development projects within the Harrison neighborhood, ensuring units are affordable to residents at or below 30% of Area Median Income.
  • A commitment on the part of the Met Council to work with HNA and Harrison community stakeholders to develop a community-serving grocery store at 260 Fremont Avenue North.
  • Tax forgiveness or tax waiver for low-income Harrison homeowners who cannot afford their increased property taxes and special assessments in order to assist them in avoiding tax forfeiture of their homes and the loss of generational wealth opportunities.
  • Funding for a Heritage Park maintenance fund.

Take action by sending an email today!

Additional information about the Bring Back 6th campaign:

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, Harrison Neighborhood Association, and other community partners are leading a campaign to address the harms of Olson Memorial Highway and reclaim the highway land to reconstruct 6th Avenue N. 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.

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
  • 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 to Housing & Community Engagement Benchmarks

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 features to ensure accessibility
  • Construction impact mitigation plan
  • Anti-displacement policies and tenant protections

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