The River Crossing
The largest remaining challenge for the Great Northern Greenway is its river crossing. Utilizing the BNSF bridge as the crossing has been part of the Above the Falls Masterplan, Riverlink Initiative and other City and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation planning documents for over twenty years. Ideally, the bridge could become a full pedestrian conversion or an alternative shared use of the fourteen feet of bridge width vacated years ago.
The bridge still carries weekly freight to one north-side customer and a possible delivery alternative could be to utilize a separate north-side rail line freeing up the need to utilize the bridge for freight.
We continue to seek help from our elected officials and public to engage the BNSF railroad about conversion or access.
Broadway Bridge Detour
Until we have a BNSF bridge river crossing and trail gaps completed from the Overlook and Marshall to California ND, the shortest detour is using the Broadway Bridge. This utilizes the West River Road and East Bank Trail bikeways.
Highlights along the North Side detour route
Ole Olson Park
West River Road N
At the intersection of 26th Avenue N and 2nd Street the detour starts by going south on 2nd St. Continuing east on the trail will lead you to the Riverlink Overlook and the uncompleted trail gap.
2nd Street has bike lanes and the detour continues east on 22nd Avenue to the West River Road. There you will continue traveling south along the river until the Broadway Bridge to cross over to northeast Minneapolis using the bridge’s north sidewalk. Ole Olson Park has a stunning savanna grass restoration along the riverbank and the West River Road trails have stunning vistas of the River, the BNSF bridge and downtown Minneapolis.
East Bank Trail detour
BNSF bridge from East Bank
13th Avenue going east
Pathway to Broadway Bridge
Use sidewalk on Broadway Bridge
Highlights along the Northeast detour route
East Bank Trail
Sheridan Memorial Park
Historic Grain Belt Brewery
The BNSF Bridge and East Side Trail align at Marshall Street where the detour continues south to the Broadway Bridge. Along the trail you will experience river vistas, pass a new adventure playground and the Sheridan Memorial. At the large sphere sculpture take 13th Avenue NE toward the Historic Grain Belt Brewery building to an abandoned railroad pathway and the Broadway Bridge north sidewalk.
Former Mayor R.T. Rybak speaks-
“Where I first walked onto the BNSF railroad bridge I had the same sense of awe and connection I had years before when I first walked onto the Stone Arch Bridge. Seeing those views, understanding that we could connect great parts of Minneapolis, I knew this had to happen.
Allowing pedestrians and bikers to use the railroad bridge would allow families in north and northeast to have the same privilege I had growing up in southwest Minneapolis when I could bike or run around the Chain of Lakes. The spectacular views of river and downtown would immediately be one of Minneapolis’ signature vistas, right up there with the the skyline over Bde Maka Ska and the Spoon and Cherry. Most important, a bridge that is rarely used would be a riverfront “High Line” where communities could come together to enjoy the very best Minneapolis has to offer.
Why have we waited so long?! Let’s work together to make this happen. I guarantee, generations to come will thank us.”