Mpls officials considering land bridge over Lake St. that would connect Calhoun, Isles [IMAGE]

A conceptual drawing of the "Lake Street Lid."
A conceptual drawing of the "Lake Street Lid."
Minneapolis Park Board via Southwest Journal -- click to enlarge

Here's the problem -- as it stands right now, getting from one end to the other of Minnesota's busiest park (the Chain of Lakes Regional Park, which includes Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles) involves traversing a bottlenecked tunnel underneath the busiest stretch of county road in Minneapolis (Lake Street). That's inconvenient to say the least.

SEE ALSO: Minneapolis officials taking heat for $200 million Central-Nicollet streetcar plan

But would you believe the solution could be as simple as building a green bridge right over Lake Street? Apparently, if enough money can be found, it might be.

Bruce Chamberlain, assistant superintendent of planning for Minneapolis parks, wants the Park Board to try to wrangle up to $250,000 for a feasibility study for the so-called "Lake Street Lid." Finding that kind of dough won't be easy -- as the Southwest Journal reports, the Park Board can't afford it, so funding would have to come from the city and neighborhood groups.

The Star Tribune provides more detail about the bridge, which would go over the top of Lake Street after the roadway is sunk slightly below ground level:

One park official's very preliminary [cost] estimate ranges between $15 million and $40 million, depending on length. Three options for how long a segment of Lake might be covered range from 150 feet (half the length of a football field) to 1,200 feet (four football fields long). The most likely location would be where Lake Street runs closest to the Midtown Greenway, a bike-pedestrian path, on the lake's north end...

The greenway would be put on stilts over the land bridge to make the ground-level connection continuous from Isles shore to Calhoun shore.

Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman told the Journal she likes the idea.

"I personally, and staff here as well, think conceptually it has merit," she said. "It's obviously a big project, but it totally makes sense to separate pedestrians and bikes and create this access between the neighborhoods and the lake."

But according to the Journal, at a recent meeting, Park Board member Jon Olson told his colleagues that with resources stretched thin and the board already having made a commitment to building a land bridge over I-94 connecting north Minneapolis to the Mississippi River (among other projects), the Lake Street lid isn't a high priority.

Maybe the city can find some money lying around somewhere? After all, if we split the difference and assume the Lake Street lid project would cost about $28 million, that's still a relative drop in the bucket compared to the $150 million-plus the city is kicking in for the new Vikings stadium. And while the Vikings stadium will be filled with about 65,000 fans 10 times a year (not counting non-football events), the Chain of Lakes park draws 5 million visitors annually, not to mention the 3,000 or so bicyclists who use the Greenway on nice days.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]

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