Midtown Greenway Needs Our Help

Anyone who has ridden on the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis knows that it has a special quality unlike anything else in the area.  It is nationally recognized as unique infrastructure that both promotes bike commuting and provides a much-needed location for urban outdoor recreation.

In our opinion part of what makes it so great is that although you are in the heart of a bustling city, it just feels different.  Plants and animals line either side of the path and the car free route makes it seem almost as if you are riding in the countryside.  Another thing missing?  Big huge power lines, for now anyway.

If Xcel Energy has their way, your peaceful morning ride will soon also be accompanied by the hum of power lines running up and down the Greenway Corridor.  The scenic rendering pictured right is one potential future for the Greenway as a new distribution system is built for the homes of South Minneapolis.

The two options currently up for debate are either running the power lines underground under 28th street or overhead on the Midtown Greenway.  If you feel strongly that the Greenway needs to be protected (and don’t want to battle construction trucks, crews, and maintenance vehicles for the next few years) volunteer your time at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission January 10th.

Here is the information from the Midtown Greenway Coalition:

The Commission will hold a public hearing on January 10th in the Large Hearing Room on the 3rd floor of the Metro Square Building, 121 7th Place E., Suite 350, in Saint Paul.  The hearing will start at 9:30 a.m. or shortly after.  The Commissioners will first hear from the parties, who include the Midtown Greenway Coalition and many neighborhood groups as well as Xcel Energy, the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, and several business interests.  The Commission will then allow members of the community to speak,

The Commission will hold a second hearing on January 12th at the same place.  This meeting will also start at 9:30 a.m. or shortly after.  At this hearing, the Commissioners will talk amongst themselves and make their decisions.  It is important that members of the community come to this hearing also, so that Commission members will be reminded that they are accountable to the community as well as the utilities.

Our goal is to have at least ONE HUNDRED community members at each hearing to show support for upholding the ALJ’s recommendation to bury the lines under 28th Street.   Commit to being there and to bringing your friends with you, and help us reach our goal.

If you won’t be able to make it they are also asking for donations to help pay legal fees related to defending the Greenway against this initiative.  A few generous donations will take care of the outstanding bill quickly.

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7 Responses to Midtown Greenway Needs Our Help

  1. REV says:

    Nice article…:)

  2. REV says:

    Reblogged this on “My Feet are Freezing” and commented:
    Great blog post by “Cycle Twin Cities”

  3. EastSide_Thomas says:

    Do you people have ANY concept of reality? This is a city, a large mega-community of many people with a great need for electricity. Have you any idea how much more it will cost to run these power lines under ground compared to overhead? Considering the ragged state of the economy you would think common sense would make this decision apparent but for some people there is this utopian vision of a modern life without any sacrifices to their tender sensibilities.
    This “”greenway” as you are so fond of calling it used to be a railroad track bed, your ability to use it is at the behest of a generous allowance by the city, the railroad and the utility company. You neither own it nor do you pay any fees to use it. You will not die because you have to “hurt” your overly sensitive eyes, ears and feelings by riding along a route with a powerline nearby. If you were to focus on the trail ahead of your front tires you wouldn’t even see it.

    • To adress a few of your comments:

      1) We are so fond of calling it the “Greenway” because that is what it is officially named. We are also fond of calling this city “Minneapolis”, and our state “Minnesota”, well, you get the picture.

      2) Do you have ANY concept of how much money XCEL Energy makes? Check out this article about the multi-million dollar increase in revenue and profits this year. Or check them out here on the list of Fortune 500 companies. They had 10.3 BILLION dollars in revenue last year.

      3) You say that “You neither own it nor do you pay any fees to use it”. Hmmm, heard of taxes? Not only do “we” own it but here is a secret, you do too.

      4) Your comments would also have been applicable in the 1930’s when citizens of Minneapolis were pushing for the city to purchase land parcels and not build on them. It is because of those people that we have the parks to enjoy today in the middle of a bustling city.

  4. EastSide_Thomas says:

    CTC, it’s nice that you are very proud of Minnesota, Minneapolis and “The Greenway”. All great places build by previous generations, hard working men and women all. Also nice is the fact that we get to enjoy the infrastructure built by the state and the city; hopefully some of us who pay the very high taxes levied in this state and the Twin Cites feel that we are getting our money’s worth.

    Some people, not all mind you, seem to feel that because bicycles are non-polluting and earth friendly, they who ride them and the culture that they so embrace around this simple device, feel as if they are a special protected class of citizens who deserve an infrastructure of trails, lanes and bridges reserved only for themselves. Yet if you look closely at the demographics of the people who make up the majority of those who ride bicycles, those 18- mid-30s, you’ll understand that it is this range of citizens who are least likely to own property and thereby pay property taxes. Their state income taxes, like everyone else’s, are spent on many other projects and services that benefit a majority of the state citizens as opposed to this small group of bicycle users. In the past, efforts by the former state Forever-Senator James Oberstar managed to pull in 100s of millions of federal dollars to construct bicycle trails throughout the state, especially in the northern regions of the state. Underused and expensive to maintain, he has created a monster that this state will be funding for generations.

    As for the profits of Xcel Energy, yes, they done well recently, largely through higher electricity rates charged to its customers; profits that are used to pay dividends to stockholders and to offset increasing high construction and maintenance costs. By the way, 42% of their recent profit increase was generated by its customers in Colorado, Minnesota being much less responsible for that. Energy corporations are heavily regulated; as they are primarily responsible to their shareholders the efficient use of funds for new power lines is a top priority. The cost of burying power transmission lines is 10-15 times more expensive than stringing them from poles and towers. Those extra costs must be passed on to its customers, that is you and I. So, if you think sticking it to Xcel Energy is the right thing to do than what you are really saying is that sticking it to Xcel’s customers is the way to go.

  5. Sarah says:

    Thomas refers to cyclists like they are a different species, like no homeowner could possibly pick up their bicycle and enjoy a safe or pleasant place to ride it, as if these higher tax paying families themselves might not produce 18-30 somethings with bicycles.
    And yet, there is something to this, this considering the cyclist as a separate entity. Consider how much money Minnesota makes on tourism, yearly on the level of agriculture for the state. While we can appreciate the property taxes paid by homeowners, you don’t have pictures of homes with mortgages in our tourism videos. We have pictures of cyclists, art patrons, people on snowmobiles and so on. Tourism is not an extra for our state, we rely upon that money.
    We do spend money on our bike trails, as you note. But we also make money on them. Collectively, the beauty and accessibility of Minnesota attractions brings people and money to the state. Putting power lines on the greenway doesn’t make it impossible to ride, but it detracts from the central function of the space to the government, it is useful but we invested in it, like all recreational areas, to be beautiful, to be better than can be found in other states. So when you try to deny cyclists their ‘special’ accommodations, what you’re really doing is detracting from the image upon which we build a central pillar of our commerce.

  6. Joe J says:

    The real issue is not about the vista, or lack thereof, along the Greenway. The issue is the impact of high power lines not only to those who would use the recreational route, but to those dwelling and visiting the area.

    What is the health impact of this plan–above or below ground? Pay attention to the impact of high power lines to the agricultural community–stray voltage; needing to ground equipment while working near the lines; impacts of the electricity to the body; impact on property values.

    Hello–there are safer routes for the power lines!

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