I attended the CAC #9 last night where the Park Board presented the findings from the traffic study that analyzed road use under various scenarios including closing down sections of Minnehaha Parkway.
You can locate the actual traffic study here, but fair warning - it is not easy reading. You need to be traffic engineering consultant to understand it fully.
The meeting was well attended, around 100 people including the Community Advisory Board, consultants and Park Board staff. A quick scan of the audience showed at least 90% sporting "Preserve The Parkway" stickers. It was clear that this crowd was not buying what the Park Board is selling.
The Consultants got up and presented the data, with some questions from the CAC as each major area of proposed changes was covered. The public was barred from asking questions until about 10 minutes at the end. They were encouraged to send feedback via the survey (fill that out here) or by putting Post Its on the boards in the back of the room labeled "Concerns" and "Hopes."
POST IT NOTES AND ONE WAY SURVEYS ARE NOT ENGAGEMENT.
The Park Board is not listening. I just did a quick scan of all the survey feedback (you can see it for yourself here, see question 3 for the meat of it) - and I could not find a single comment of the first few hundred that was supportive of this Plan to close or re-route parts of the Parkway. I am sure there are a few, but I wasn't going to weed thru 1,841 comments.
We never wanted this plan when it was discussed earlier this year, and we still don't want it. Why is the Park Board continuing to throw taxpayer money at consulting fees to try to justify a plan that no one wants?
Last night someone lucky enough to ask a question wanted to know if there was data on fatalities or injuries of bicyclists or pedestrians that motivated the Park Board to take action and initiate these closures/reroutes. They also wanted to know if it was projected what the decrease in fatalities or injuries would be if the changes were made. Adam Arvidson, Project Manager, told us with a straight face that there was no data because it was not always reported.
WHY are we even doing this?
If you read the study completely, the assertion of greater public safety with these changes is highly questionable. In fact, let's take the intersection at 50th and Minnehaha Parkway as an example:
Road to be closed - Minnehaha Parkway between 51st and 50th - eliminate southbound traffic
Reroute suggested - drive west on 50th, turn left at James, drive one block between a busy church and school, turn left onto Minnehaha Parkway, turn right at the 2-way Parkway, Lyndale or other interior street
Huh? So to eliminate one turn at 50th and Minnehaha Parkway, we now have 4 turns with even higher likelihoods of "bicycle/pedestrian conflicts" given the student and church population immediately adjacent.
There are plenty of other safety concerns.
This is a bad plan and should have been scrapped in July. The new traffic study data actually supports the closures and reroutes negatively impacting public safety. This blatant ignorance of clear public feedback must stop. The Post Its might be considered engagement by the Park Board, but residents will engage with their votes in 2021. Guaranteed.