How will downtown Alexandria look after a major reconstruction project between 3rd and 8th Avenue this summer?
The picture is getting clearer.
Alexandria City Council members and key staff people have been meeting to talk about what they call the Broadway “amenities” – sidewalks, colored concrete, pavers, irrigation, planters, benches, trees and other touches that will redefine the feel of the downtown area.
They’ve gleaned ideas from other cities, such as Osseo, tossed out some options, tweaked others and are still making changes in the bid packages that will be sent out as part of the Broadway project.
Since Broadway serves as a state highway, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is picking up most of the reconstruction but not the amenities that go with it.
City Engineer Tim Schoonhoven provided an update of Broadway’s design elements at Monday night’s council meeting. The council has not yet approved any of these possibilities but is including or excluding them from the bid packages.
•Trees, planters and flowers. About a dozen trees will be planted per block, between 3rd and 8th Avenue. Some will be placed in planter boxes, which will also serve as benches. Some trees will be in cast-iron grates, level with the sidewalk. Others will be in separate planting areas, along with perennials and other landscaping touches. This was included in the bid package.
•Irrigation systems. The city is moving ahead with an underground system that would water the trees. Another option is providing irrigation up the light poles to hanging flower baskets. This option may be excluded, depending on cost.
•Bollards. These are short posts, three to four feet high, six inches in diameter, that would be placed in the pedestrian “bump-out” intersection areas. They would help define the crosswalk. They are not yet in the bid package. The council is considering whether bollards should be lighted.
•Pavers and colored concrete. Most of the sidewalks will be colored concrete. The council is considering whether to use a paver design on the edge of some of sidewalks, which could be similar to the wave pattern at Broadway and 3rd Avenue, or it may go with all colored concrete instead.
•Metal railings. The council considered this amenity, which would provide a decorative fence around a parking lot, for example, but removed it from the bid.
•Benches. Two designs will be used, one with a back, one without. They are in the bid package now but may be excluded.
•Bike racks. This was included in the bid package but is still optional. Schoonhoven pointed out that under the city’s existing ordinances, bicycle riding is prohibited on Broadway. People could still walk their bicycles, however. The council is considering adding better signage that clearly indicates bicycles must be walked.
•Trash receptacles. This was included in the bid package but could be eliminated.
•Snow removal. The issue of who will be responsible for removing snow from Broadway sidewalks is still under discussion.