|[One of the "visions" from Rybak's 2007 Washington Ave plan.]|
|[Remove the trees, people, and median, and this is about right.]|
You see, change in Minneapolis and St Paul happens incredibly slowly. Almost any debate you can think of has a long and tortured history that stretching back to the dawn of Central Standard Time. Almost any issue you can think of has probably already been discussed and debated by your mothers and your mother's fathers (and in the case of St Paul road design, probably far longer than that).
That means that it really helps to do some homework before you jump into the kaleidoscopic world of Twin Cities planning debates. It helps to have been around for a while, to have been paying attention for a few years or a few decades. This is a perfect example. Just looking at the announcement by Hennepin County about the Washington Avenue redesign, you might never know that the city and its mayor invested time and energy into this project already. You might never know about the designs and the street in the Pedestrian plan or the Bike Master Plan or the Access Minneapolis plan. You might not have seen the historical photos of Washington, before the street was transformed into a viaduct for its freeways.
This is a great example of the "rubber meeting the road." I remember Rybak talking onstage about how great Washington Avenue could become. Thinking back to that moment and comparing it today's meeting throws into relief the difference between talking and doing, between actions and words. At last I've been around long enough to remember.
|[The 2007 Great City Design event, where "Washington Boulevard" was born.]|