At a Glance
The City of Hopkins used a corridor visioning plan sensitive to the rich downtown history and the multimodal connection opportunities of the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT) station to draw new visitors to the area and create a pedestrian-friendly environment for all users.
What was once a thriving downtown area in the City of Hopkins now desired an updated design plan to complement the community's active and artistic lifestyle. With the proposed SWLRT station bringing new visitors to the historic Mainstreet area, the city wanted to create a "pedestrian seductive" area to draw new visitors in and keep them coming back. The goals of the project included enhancing safety for all modes of transportation, improving stormwater management while highlighting sustainability education, and listening to community members through public outreach methods to give them a voice for the space they will be using on a daily basis.
A major goal of The Artery was to create a dedicated bicycle facility between two regional trails, a widened sidewalk for increased light rail bound pedestrians, and interactive art features while maintaining vehicle traffic and some on-street parking.
The project did not specifically require any permanent stormwater management based on NPDES or watershed district requirements, but the city wanted to raise the bar with sustainable streetscapes in Minnesota as well as position downtown Hopkins for future redevelopment opportunities.
Community input was also a significant project goal. The city was passionate about making sure those who were going to be using the area had their voices heard and their ideas taken into consideration.
Using innovative public outreach and a collaborative design process, a successful vision was developed for The Artery. This project's success lies in the flexible design approach to develop a multimodal, pedestrian-friendly corridor that also serves as an art-centric, urban linear park. To increase safety for cyclists, a new signal head was incorporated at the Mainstreet intersection, authorized via a ‘request to experiment’ to the FHWA. The signal head gives cyclists a leading green phase for a five second head start into the intersection before conflicting vehicles are provided a green signal.
The city, in partnership with the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District (NMCWD), developed the first stormwater management credit bank in the history of the NMCWD. The bank created 2,739 cubic feet of credits available for purchase by adjacent future redevelopment projects. The credits are available at a discounted price compared to underground storage facilities that otherwise will be necessary under future building redevelopments. The project manages stormwater above and beyond requirements through:
• Linear infiltration boulevard disguised with planting beds and permeable pavers between the curb line and cycle track.
• Tree trenches incorporated as an enclosed technique for managing stormwater in an urban environment.
• The Artery green infrastructure room—an educational art room incorporating sustainable practices of infiltration basins, stormwater tree trenches, and drought-tolerant plant selections. The green infrastructure room is designed in a highly visible public area, bringing the project’s sustainable approaches to the forefront of public visibility.
The summer before final design work began, the city wanted a hands-on test run showing the community how this dramatic change could be implemented on 8th Avenue. This tactical urbanism approach, branded as The Artery Experiment, temporarily transformed the existing corridor into the future street configuration by using a combination of low-cost, temporary installations of artificial turf, landscape planters, spray paint street markings, activity tents, and professional street artists to stimulate the community and collect feedback. Participants experienced the streetscape filled with art spaces and activities, two-way cycle track, one-way roadway, and landscaped space. The event attracted approximately 2,000 individuals, and over 160 completed surveys indicating what elements of The Artery they felt were most important.
- Integration of interactive public art, innovative technology, a two-way cycle track, and educational elements of storytelling and cultural history all within the public realm.
- A 12-foot-wide concrete cycle track built with colored concrete bands as it crosses and approaches intersections/alleys. Etched stainless steel medallions dot the track's centerline.
- A lobby off the cycle track allows cyclists to wait for the city bus or LRT, access their vehicle in the parking garage, or permanently store/repair their bicycle in the heated indoor space.
- Interpretative signage encouraged sustainability and provides educational narratives on stormwater management techniques and take-it-home ideas of sustainability on a residential scale.
- Stormwater is directed from the curb line into a pit filled with structural soil, providing a growing medium for trees and support for sidewalks. Grates make all walking surfaces accessible.
Innovative development processes featured multi-disciplinary input from public works professionals, engineers, planners, urbanists, artists, and supporting specialists.
Who Should Consider?
Higher population cities that are looking to increase the number of visitors and safety for pedestrians and multimodal transportation around historic downtown areas and light rail transits.