Better Bridges for Stronger Communities

A Friendly Streets Initiative project in collaboration with the Union Park District Council, Summit-University Planning Council, Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Lex-Ham Community Council, Desnoyer Park Improvement Association, St. Anthony Park Community Council, Hamline Midway Coalition, Frogtown Neighborhood Association, the District Councils Collaborative, Crows Nest Design and the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.

© Jon Pavlica Photography
Better Bridges Bash, April 2015. © Jon Pavlica Photography

Better Bridges is a community-led effort to re-envision the bridges over I-94. The project is focusing on eight bridges: Pelham, Fairview, Snelling, Hamline, Griggs, Lexington, Victoria, and Dale. Interstate 94 has left a legacy of separation. Saint Paul’s Green Line communities report that the bridges are psychological and physical barriers to walking and bicycling. They are exposed to the elements, most are wide and motor-oriented, aesthetically unremarkable and displeasing, and in several cases, unsafe for non-motorized passage. They are also remarkable opportunities to become safe for users of all abilities, and become expressions of artistic creativity with iconic potential.

Project Components

  • Block parties and other community events with free food, live music, art activities, and community visioning tools developed by Friendly Streets.
  • Written and online surveys collecting community ideas and input for each bridge.
  • Temporary community-led artistic placemaking and wayfinding installations, and improved walking and bicycling facilities for each bridge that improve the non-motorized experience of crossing over the freeway and allow neighbors to test out ideas that could be implemented in a more permanent way in the future. Examples might include temporary protected bike lanes or bumpouts, improved crosswalks, or sidewalk art.
  • Informed by data from the events and survey, the SPRC Design Center will lead workshops to further develop design ideas for each bridge site which reflect the interests, concerns and cultures of each neighborhood.
  • A final report & concept plan for each site will document this neighborhood process and provide local input and resources to be used by neighborhood organizers, district councils, city planners, MNDOT engineers, artists, and others involved in future bridge design, repair, and reconstruction projects.

Better Bridges will contribute to making Saint Paul’s urban landscapes visually remarkable and memorable. The City and County will have new places to promote with pride. And, most importantly, people of all ages and abilities will have greater mobility options with the associated potential for improved health.

Want to get involved? We are looking for neighbors who may be interested in joining one of our working groups to advise the project and help plan block parties. We are also recruiting local artists to present activities, performances and installations at Better Bridges events. Get in touch to join in!

This project is supported by the Knight Green Line Challenge, the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative and the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.