In June 2017, Union Park District Council received funding through Ramsey County Public Health and the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership to increase wayfinding to the Aldine Pedestrian Bridge across I-94 at Aldine Street. The bridge is hard to find, and therefore, it is underutilized. The area around the bridge has poor visibility, there is a lack of signage about the bridge, and a confusing path leads to the bridge. There are, however, compelling reasons to increase awareness and use of the Aldine bridge. The bridge is the only place to cross I-94 between a state highway and a collector road a half-mile to the west. The bridge is also part of the formal bicycle network endorsed in the city’s bicycle plan. And, residents in the area have a strong desire to better connect communities and amenities north and south of I-94.
Through the SHIP project, Union Park set out to solve wayfinding issues related to the bridge in a variety of ways, as described in this report. Overgrown foliage near the bridge was removed. The existing Aldine Pedestrian Bridge Mural was extended from the bridge down to Concordia Avenue, increasing visibility of the mural and bridge from the south. Wayfinding arrows were painted on the sidewalks connecting Aldine Park and the bridge. Wayfinding signage from “Walk [Your City]” was installed at ten intersections with heavy bicycle and pedestrian use, indicating the route to the bridge. A community event was held on Thursday, July 27 on Aldine Street adjacent to the park to increase community awareness of the pedestrian bridge, receive feedback on wayfinding and creative placemaking, involve resident volunteers in painting the sidewalk wayfinding, and inspire neighborhood interest and involvement in future projects in the area. And lastly, staff and interns conducted outreach at Merriam Park, the Merriam Park Library, and at the corner of Snelling and Marshall to get resident feedback on the project and to help increase awareness about the bridge.
In addition to having one hundred people engage with us at our July community event, we received 89 completed surveys over the course of the project, and had many additional conversations with residents about the bridge. We were told by several people that prior to our work, they had no idea that Aldine Park or the Aldine Pedestrian Bridge even existed. As a result of our wayfinding and engagement efforts, we know that more families are walking and enjoying these important neighborhood amenities. One family that lives just a five minute walk north of Aldine Park told us that they now walk weekly across the Aldine Pedestrian Bridge in order to enjoy Aldine Park with their young daughter. Before our community event, they did not even know the park existed.
And, as a result of our efforts to improve the experience walking over the Aldine Bridge, neighbors have been inspired by our work and are starting to organize around other ways to enhance the experience walking across the Aldine bridge. If you have an idea, email firstname.lastname@example.org.