After 10 years of planning and seven months of construction, the City of Hopkins invites the community to celebrate the grand opening of the Artery noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 2. From Excelsior Boulevard to Mainstreet, Eighth Avenue South has been transformed into a public art walk and bikeway.
To make room for these pedestrian-friendly amenities, the street was reconstructed into a narrower one-way and sidewalks were widened. It is adjacent to The Moline, the city’s first luxury apartment building, and across the street from an anticipated Southwest Light Rail station.
The multi-block corridor is designed to be a gateway to Mainstreet that entices pedestrians and potential light rail commuters to visit the historic downtown and patronize local businesses.
“We wanted to make sure that people would come across Excelsior Boulevard and, before they hop into their cars, that they could be lured, that they would be excited about going down Eighth Avenue, the Artery,” Hopkins Mayor Molly Cummings said.
There are four large public art pieces that the city commissioned from artists nationwide. More than 90 artists applied, with applications reviewed by a public art committee. There are also smaller decorative panels designed by local artists.
The two-way cycle track running down the multi-block corridor connects the previously unlinked Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail and the trailheads at The Depot for the Cedar Lake LRT Regional Trail and the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail.
A ribbon cutting will be at noon to ring in the city’s 125th birthday. The event will also feature artist talks, loaner bikes to test the new bike lanes, live music and lawn games. Complimentary raspberry sundaes will be served.
Parking will be limited, so pedestrians are encouraged to carpool, walk, use public transportation or bike. A bike corral will be available onsite.
The total project cost was $5.5 million, which includes design, construction and management. Financial support from the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and Three Rivers Park District made the Artery possible. The Met Council gave the city a transit-oriented development grant of about $1.3 million. This type of grant promotes moderate- to high-density development projects located within walking distance of a major transit stop that typically includes a mix of housing, jobs, restaurants, shops and entertainment.