Gil Roscoe, president and CEO of Mid-America Business Systems, rushed out the door of his office at 2500 Broadway Street NE as a pair of giant scissors snipped the red ribbon suspended across the roadway and his employees cheered from the parking lot. “I wanna see what I got for my $86,000,” he said.
Like many business owners in the Mid-City Industrial neighborhood, he was relieved and happy to see the section of Broadway from Stinson Blvd. to Industrial Blvd re-open to traffic once more. Sarah Crowley, co-owner of Wander North Distillery, 771 Harding Street NE, said her business had dropped 40 percent during the five-and-a-half months the road was under construction.
The ribbon cutting took place on Nov. 15, and the roadway, transformed from four lanes to a two-lane roadway with center turn lanes and an off-street bike/pedestrian path on the south, officially opened to traffic the next day. A new traffic signal was installed at the Hoover Street intersection, and nearly a mile of missing sidewalk was added to the north side of the street.
Titus Jaafaru, City of Minneapolis field inspector, said, the $3.7 million project, which began April 30, was completed one day ahead of schedule. Minneapolis engineers Don Pflaum and Adam Hayow planned and designed the project; Park Construction did the work under the supervision of city Construction Engineer Petru Vizoli. They were among the people who lined up behind the red ribbon as First Ward Council Member Kevin Reich and Jaafaru wielded the scissors.
Workers estimated that 6,000 tons of asphalt – about 300 truckloads at 20 tons per truck — went into the road’s construction. City Engineer Lisa Cerney said the project required “a lot of communication. The local businesses had to remain open and needed access.” Two businesses, Costco Business Center and Warners Stellian, opened in July.
Reich said the Broadway project was unique. “It was business-driven,” he said. “The Mid-City Industrial Business Association came to the City Council and said, ‘This road is from a bygone era. We need something for the future, with better access for transit.’ This area has the third-highest concentration of employment outside of downtown,” he noted. “It’s bigger than Duluth.” More than 10,000 vehicles use Broadway each day.
Although the work on Broadway is mostly complete, there are a couple of to-dos left on the list. New traffic signals will be installed by December. The Minneapolis Park Board will plant trees in the median next spring, permanent lighting will be installed and striping for the crosswalks will be painted then.
As the gathering broke up, Reich threw down a challenge. “Minneapolis’ right-of-way [over Broadway] ends at Stinson,” he said. “Hennepin County owns the rest. Let’s see if they can do as good a job.”
Below: The east end of Broadway now has center turn lanes, more sidewalks and an off-street bike/pedestrian path. Parts for new lighting along Broadway were stacked and waiting for installation. Minneapolis Field Inspector Titus Jaafaru and Council Member Kevin Reich prepared to cut the ribbon. Standing next to them was Director of Public Works Robin Hutcheson. (Photo by Cynthia Sowden)