Gridding West Midway |

Midway West District Current and Future Roads sketch
Midway West District Current and Future Roads sketch

Neighborhoods change. Technologies change. Economies change. While today a Distribution Center is advantageous in the West Midway Industrial Area, because the sunk costs are sunk and all the buildings are built and relocating is expensive, that might not always be true. Eventually these structures will be obsolete for the demands of the day, or a newer and higher use will bid them out. Today, newer distribution centers tend to be in the outer suburbs with better freeway access.

Recently the Green Line was opened with a station nearby, and much of this industrial land is within walking distance of the Raymond Avenue station (which to be precise is entirely east of Raymond Avenue). When this neighborhood changes, it might be wise to break up the large industrially-optimal superblocks for a more residentially-optimal fine grained grid. Change sometimes occurs quickly. Providing more East-West connectivity is especially important, so not all traffic is driven down to University Avenue. It might be wise to get those lines in the plan before proposals come before City to redevelop, so those redevelopments can it least be required to dedicate the right-of-way if not building the appropriate streets.

Getting this exactly right is not critical, there is no anticipatable precisely perfect location for future streets in a changing, adaptable world. Getting this basically right is important, a fine-meshed grid makes a difference for local circulation. However, knowing this is likely to be piecemeal, and knowing that roads should be and will be built opportunistically, but should not taking existing buildings with thriving businesses, means a rough sketch should be drawn with contingencies. The attached figure is a rough sketch.

The top black line and red lines are  the posited or dreamed about westward extension of the Pierce Butler Route, denoted for reference. The blue lines illustrate a finer meshed grid in this area. Think about them as respecting property lines where possible, going through currently paved but unstructured land where possible. The most important pieces are making sure all the East-West streets connect to Vandalia Street, and thus to I-94, and making sure the North-South streets connect to Territorial Road, and thus to Mn-280.

From east to west, the map shows

  1. a new North-South street breaking up the superblock from Charles Avenue to the end of Capp Road
  2. a second new North-South street breaking up the second superblock from Territorial to Capp Road.

These streets are circulatory in nature, and designed for access to properties in a redeveloped site.

From south to north, the map shows in blue

  1. Territorial extending to Transfer Road, through the old Amtrak station, across Railroad tracks, and into Minnehaha Avenue. Traffic calm to suit.
  2. Ellis Avenue extending to Hampden Avenue
  3. Wycliff Avenue extending to Transfer Road

These streets should achieve the aims of an extended Pierce Butler Route without running rough through the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. In particular, by directing  traffic toward Vandalia and Territorial, and thus to freeways, it should reduce through traffic in other areas and stray trucks on streets that should be more pedestrian and transit oriented.


Cross-posted at