Call for Entries! Top 10 Worst Twin CIties Planning Decisions

The recent Metrodome implosion has propelled me to act on a long-standing idea that's been rattling around my head. Finally, perhaps we can answer the question: What is the Twin Cities' single worst urban planning decision?

Send me your terrible, your poor, your huddled masses of bricks and concrete, yearning not to be asinine. Send me any ideas you might have for what you think is the worst move in the history of TC planning! Email me at blindeke@gmail.com or comment here.

But first, a ground rule...

These fiascos have to be the right kind of fiasco. The Metrodome is a good example of the kind of thing I'm talking about. You can picture a dozen dudes in suits in a room sitting around and convincing themselves that building a giant metrodome is a good idea. That's the scale at which I'd like these bad decisions to be made.

So, nothing totally huge. Nothing like "the interstate highway system" (sorry Luke!) or "the mortgage interest deduction". It has to be smaller than that, something you can get your mind around.

I've a few things in mind. The Metrodome is one of them. What is your idea for the worst planning move in the history of the the Twin Cities?

I hope we can figure this out in time for the New Year!


Reid said...

my entry: putting the K-Mart in the middle of Nicollet (or whichever other major street it blocks)

Kassie said...

I was going to say exactly what Reid said-- Kmart in the middle of Nicollet. WTF?

Amber Sausen said...

The destruction of the Gateway district.

W said...

County Road 122!

Even if the name doesn't ring a bell, you are definitely familiar with it. It is the short stretch of road on the U of M West Bank that connects the Washington Avenue Bridge (with some entrances to I-35W in between).

It runs as fast as an expressway. It is as wide as an expressway. And it is below-grade like an expressway. But it is not an expressway! It only runs for a few hundred yards with 30 mph city streets on either end.

Worst, it separates Seven Corners from the West Bank, two areas that , by rights, should be one neighborhood.

W said...

Correction: It is the short stretch of road on the U of M West Bank that connects the Washington Avenue Bridge to 3rd Street South in Downtown(with some entrances to I-35W in between).

boondoggle said...

W has a good one. That always seemed like an awkward stretch of road.

I'd nominate the Cedar Riverside apartment buildings as an obvious choice.

I'll also put in the bike bridge between lyndale and hennepin at the northern end of uptown (not sure how else to describe this thing). You're riding out of town on this nice flat, wide, fast bike path, and then that just spits you out into oncoming traffic on lyndale (and a no bikes on the sidewalk sign to boot). In order to fix this, we shouldn't get rid of the 8 parking spots that are right there and put in a continuation of the bike lane where people want it... instead a ginourmous bike ramp that goes way out of the way and which no one will ever use. Even if you were going over to hennepin, why would you take that route? Unless you live in the two blocks behind Franklin where it spits you out, there really is no reason.

In Saint Paul, I would nominate, along the lines of W's suggestion, the stretch of 35E that is supposed to be 45 mph speed limit, like a parkway. The litigation history of that is really interesting, but the result is ridiculous. Have you ever seen anyone actually going 45 on that road?

Anonymous said...

Garbage incinerator in downtown.

Alex said...

How about building a Transit Center on top of a bike/ped path and not connecting the two? I'm thinking of the Uptown Transit Center over the Midtown Greenway.

Alex said...

This one may be too big: The Decision to Not Build Rail Transit.


Bill Lindeke said...

awesome. thanks everyone. keep it coming

Philip Freyre said...

1. The decision to locate the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in a neighborhood rather than a central place. It should facing Hennepin or Nicollet with a big staircase just like the art museums in Chicago and New York face Michigan Ave and Fifth Avenues, respectively.

2. This is a lack of decision more than anything else. The lack of a central downtown park - Loring Park is a neighborhood park. The prime location should be near the Central Library, bounded by Washington, Hennepin, 3rd, and Nicollet.

3. The future decision to locate the SW LRT (when its built) in the Kenilworth Trail rather than through South Minneapolis and bypass Uptown, which would be a huge trip generator.

"If you don't invest in the core, the rest of the apple will rot away." - Richard M. Daley

Daniel said...

No doubt Nicollet blocking K-Mart is the worst.

Also, on my list is City Center. That is the ugliest, most inward facing mistake downtown.

Road-wise, I'd nominate the Hennepin, Lyndale, 94 clusterf*@k adjacent to The Walker.

And for that matter, the decision to put The Walker on the other side of that gulf from the city.

The policy to build/allow many buildings to come down in downtown Minneapolis and be converted into surface lots to support cheap downtown parking.

Trigly said...

I'd like to nominate the alignment of I-94 through - and between - both downtowns:
-In St. Paul, 94 and 35E separate the Capitol area from downtown and take up huge areas.

-In Minneapolis, 94 separates downtown from many residential areas, and contributes to the clusterf&#k at the Walker mentioned above by Daniel.

-And, of course, let's not forget what the construction of 94 did to the old Rondo neighborhood in St. Paul. Completely gone.

Mike Hicks said...

I understand that most of the area bounded by (and extending somewhat beyond) I-35W, MN-280, and Hennepin Ave was a quarry at one time. As quarry activities wound down, the area was completely taken over by commercial/industrial buildings. Residential areas north of the University of Minnesota abruptly halt at Hennepin.

The St. Paul Port Authority has put up a bunch of pretty awful low-density commercial/industrial developments, mostly on abandoned parcels of former railroad land. Energy Park and Bandana Square was an early project of theirs. On paper, the area seems okay, but a spot which looked on paper to be nicely spaced in between Como Park and Hamline University turned out to be completely isolated because it was surrounded by rail lines.

Close by, the St. Paul Saints play in a stadium which is in one of the least-connected spots in the city in terms of road and transit links.

The Midway commercial district mostly southeast of University and Snelling is another big mess. I think that was also a Port Authority project.

I agree with other comments related to the crazy razing of buildings downtown. It's amazing to look at overhead shots and see how much land is dedicated to surface or structured parking these days.

Anonymous said...

The intersection of Cedar, Franklin, and Minnehaha Avenues in south Minneapolis!

It could hardly be worse to cross this intersection as a pedestrian or bicyclist, and it's also pretty terrible in a car. The city and county have had the opportunity to rework this intersection with the Hiawatha LRT coming in, but nothing worthwhile has been done to fix that mess of streets.

Anonymous said...

Building three buildings (Town Square, Wells Fargo Place, Travelers) over the old 7th Street ROW in downtown St. Paul, thus diminishing hope of revitalizing downtown around its historic pedestrian and commercial spine as Minneapolis did with the Nicollet Mall, and just goofing up downtown's flow generally. I believe even Latimer, who was Mayor at the time, has acknowledged what a shortsighted decision it was.

Jeff Skrenes said...

How about the one-size-fits-all decision by CPED/MCDA to propose demolition over preservation far too often across Minneapolis?

BTW, came across your blog through The Urbanophile.

paulsmith198914@gmail.com said...

I hope you could figure this out in time for the New Year! I'm here for the first time... simply looking for some extravagant ideas on how to write a process paper in an appealing way!