Minneapolis and St. Paul are blessed with extensive park and parkway systems, among the best in the country, with iconic design.
These parkway systems, envisioned by H.W. S. Cleveland in the late 1800s have yet to be completed. In Minneapolis, there is a missing link in the less loved section east of the Mississippi River. A comprehensive study considered how to fill it, but looked strictly at Minneapolis-based options. St. Paul’s Grand Round system remains incomplete, and the western section is also under-developed. The wikipedia article on Cleveland says: “Plans for a similar system in St. Paul, would have connected it to the Minneapolis system, but they were never completed, with the exception of the parkways along the Mississippi River.”
Coincidentally, the eastern border of Minneapolis is the western border of St. Paul. This confluence of borders creates an opportunity. The eastern leg of the Minneapolis Grand Rounds could be the western leg of the St. Paul Grand Round.*, **
I have heard rumors of such possibilities, but have not seen open discussion.
Instead of constructing a new, expensive railroad crossing just west of Mn-280 on the Minneapolis side of the line, as proposed in the Missing Link study, just connect Industrial Boulevard to Como Avenue, follow Como to Raymond Avenue, and there you are on the St. Paul Grand Round.
The St. Paul side still requires a tricky connection between Pelham and Raymond through an industrial area, but that is a much smaller scope than completing the Minneapolis Missing Link as proposed requires. This would be in addition to cost-savings, which can then be spent on other things that are more important than duplicating parkway sections within a mile of each other, an indication of inter-municipal cooperation and joint marketing that could lead to better things in the future. Instead of waiting decades to find the funding for the Missing Link, this could be completed in a matter of a couple of years. If Minneapolis so desired, 27th Avenue SE could be improved and remain a spur on the new joint system.
Notably, the combined systems would no longer be round, but instead the infinity symbol, marking the Siamese Twin nature of our two leading cities, forever connected.***
* I believe there is an official difference in spelling, the “Grand Round” in Saint Paul is singular, the “Grand Rounds” in Minneapolis is plural.
** I don’t mean literally running on Emerald Street, which is split down the middle between the two cities.
*** I am assuming there is an actual Mississippi River crossing on the Grand Round, like Franklin Avenue or Lake Street. I am not sure how it is legally defined, but this is easily fixed with signage.
cross-posted at streets.mn
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