Over objections from residents, the Robbinsdale City Council has approved plans for a bike trail to be built as part of a street reconstruction and water main and sewer line replacement project.
The council voted 3-1 Nov. 1 to include a 10-foot-wide bike trail that would run three blocks on the east side of Hubbard Avenue as part of the $6.6 million project — scheduled for next year — to replace sewer and water lines that date to the 1920s.
David Ulbrich, who lives on Hubbard Avenue, said residents on the street have no beef with the need to replace the aging water infrastructure. But they do have a problem with the bike trail, which will come with a loss of green space and trees in front yards, reduced on-street parking and a costly assessment.
"There is no need to add this to the east side of Hubbard," Ulbrich said during a public hearing Oct. 18, where he submitted a petition signed by 48 residents opposing the trail. "It is an absolute ridiculous waste of money. It should not be considered at this time."
Robbinsdale, a north metro suburb with a population of about 14,200, put in a similar asphalt trail crossing front yards along Noble Avenue when it rebuilt that street a few years ago. City Engineer Richard McCoy said the Hubbard trail provides a connection to existing bike lanes on nearby 36th and France avenues and is part of the city's comprehensive plan to support multimodal transportation.
Some residents have dubbed the Hubbard Avenue path the "trail to nowhere," since it will run only between Grimes and 38th avenues, stopping in the middle of the neighborhood. The trail would not connect to the city's downtown or a proposed light-rail station that would be built as part of the Blue Line Extension connecting Minneapolis with Brooklyn Park.
The city said it plans to extend the trail two more blocks to 40th Avenue in later years, and possibly create connections to downtown and an LRT rail station.
"You build stuff when you can," McCoy said.
Property owners on Hubbard and those on portions of Grimes, France, 36th and 38th avenues — streets that will be rebuilt without a new bike lane — will be assessed just under an average of $7,400. Property owners will have until November 2023 to pay in full, or can pay over 10 years at 6% interest.
Hubbard Avenue resident Michelle Ross said she hoped the bike trail would be removed from the project to lessen her financial burden.
"How in this economy am I to make another $7,000 to pay for this?" she asked during the public hearing.
The council tabled a decision on the trail at its Oct. 18 meeting, but voted in favor of it at its Nov. 1 meeting.
Council Member George Selman cast the lone dissenting vote.
"I got no contact in favor of the bike path, only opposition," he said before the vote, "and probably one of the bigger volumes of oppositions in quite some time."
But Council Member Pat Backen countered that the bike lane should be there.
"We all have to look at what is best for the community … not necessarily a single street," he said before voting in favor of the trail. "We only get to do those roads every 75 to 100 years. Not taking this opportunity now would not be fiscally responsible and really a loss of opportunity for the walkability of our city."