Hordes of bicyclists on my secret bridge?

Welcome back, University of Minnesota students! In honor of the annual boost in the neighborhood’s bicycling population, I’m offering a photo tour of the proposed U of M Bikeway route.

First, a map. The city of Minneapolis website shows the trail, which will start on the east bank of the Mississippi River, run through the Dinkytown Trench — a low spot in the landscape that used to be a creek bed — and end a mile or so later at Fifth Street SE near TCF Stadium.

Proposed U of M Bikeway

Today two dirt roads parallel a set of mostly-abandoned railroad tracks in the trench. The city had hoped to use the straighter, wider path (on the left in the photo below), for the new bikeway.

The view is from the little suspension bridge near Sanford Hall on University Avenue

But the railroad owned the property, and dealing with railroads is muy complicado. A “long list of disagreements” finally convinced the city to shift the route to the path on the right, which is on University property. One area of disagreement: the railroad wanted to maintain the mineral rights on its property. I doubt they were expecting to find gold or silver in southeast Minneapolis. Still, it makes you wonder. What’s under there?

I like the back roads look of the Dinkytown Trench, so I got on my bike and shot photos of the bikeway as it appears today. My tour starts on Fifth Street. TCF Stadium is just behind me in the photo below.

The route leaves Fifth Street and follows this grassy strip toward the railroad yards.

Then it runs beneath several Dinkytown bridges. That’s downtown Minneapolis in the background.

In case you’re completely flummoxed about where this trail is, here’s a well-known Dinkytown landmark from below.

We’re getting close to the end. The route veers left, hugging the wall,

offering bicyclists a great view of the scenic coal-handling facility (white building on the right) on the U of M east bank campus. West bank buildings are in the background, and the Mississippi is coming right up.

Ta-da! Bridge Number 9 over the Mississippi River. No bicyclists in this photo.

The U of M Bikeway will be a new link in the city’s extensive bike trail network,  and will make my secret bridge, Bridge Number 9, much less secret. But the city of Minneapolis has long had plans to “out” this bridge. Bicyclists will soon be able to ride on paved trails from south Minneapolis to the St. Paul campus without ever worrying about a big truck flattening them. That’s a good thing.

It sounds as though the hardest part of planning this bike path is over. Now we wait for the surveyors to survey and the winter to wear itself out. And then I’ll have to start sharing Bridge Number 9.






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