Horace William Shaler Cleveland, an eminent landscape architect, first envisioned the design of the Grand Round in 1872 when the Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis hired him to sketch a plan for their individual park systems. However, Cleveland’s design never came through until the twenty-first century, when St. Paul declared its commitment in resurrecting the innovative idea with the proposal of the St. Paul Grand Round Master Plan in October 2000.
Since the plan’s establishment in 2000, the southern half of the Grand Round has been completed with urban infrastructure including bike lanes, water fountains, and benches. While the southern half has been completed, construction on the northern portion of the project will commence in spring 2016, with an expected completion in the winter of 2016. According to the City of St. Paul, the northern half of the Grand Round will be approximately 12.5 miles long.
The segments, starting with Johnson Parkway, will connect the east side of St. Paul to several city parks such as Phalen Park and Como Park in the northern end and to the west side where the Mississippi River runs. Project manager Kathleen Anglo, senior landscape architect for the project, discloses that these segments will be a long series of parkways that are accessible to both vehicles and bikes. The design of all sections aims to include on-street bike lanes, off-street bike routes, off-road sidewalks, and pedestrian facilities similar to those of southern sections.
The development of the segments coincides with the aspiration reflected in the master plan and objective in St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s 8 80 Vitality Fund, an endowment that focuses on enhancing infrastructure and public spaces. With more than $27 million in investments from the City’s 8 80 Vitality Fund, St. Paul’s goal for the Grand Round is to help connect neighborhoods to green nature, urban spaces, and local businesses--in addition to promoting green transportation and outdoor activities with walkways and bike lanes. The section of Pelham Boulevard, for example, fits the City’s model for green transportation along with connecting neighborhoods to green nature. Branching off from Mississippi River Boulevard, Pelham Boulevard lies adjacent to the river. This gives cyclists an opportunity to utilize Pelham Boulevard as a route that leads into the scenic river parkway from Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.
Pelham Boulevard (along with other segments) not only connects the different neighborhoods of St. Paul, but also encourages residents to enjoy nature and public spaces that is accessible on foot and by bike. The initiatives for green transportation started when the city government acknowledged that St. Paul, in general, lacks good bike trails to accommodate cyclists. Hence, the City considers it necessary to create safe and functional park/parkways for all residents. Overall, the master plan emphasizes the St. Paul government’s desire to advocate for sustainable work in terms of green transportation and the effort to enrich and preserve “the corridor environment—natural, cultural, scenic, and habitat.” Moreover, the City government is confident that the completion of the St. Paul Grand Round is “a key component in making St. Paul a great place to live, work, and do business.”
How will the green transportation initiative in St. Paul benefit the residents and transform transportation? What are some green transportation initiatives in your city? Share your thoughts and your city's stories in the comments area below.
Credits: Images by Tam Nguyen. Data linked to sources.