Cline: Connecting Ayd Mill Road as a four-lane connection between the freeways would be a culmination of some ideas hatched about 40 or 50 years ago.Michael Cline is a member of Neighborhoods First!, a group he began a little more than two years ago to try to push for a park, rather than a connection between two freeways.
Cline: We have an opportunity now to make a very important decision, that imagine, 30, 40, 50 years down the road, are we going to be glad that there was finally that smooth connection from 35E to 94? Or are we going to be glad that we chose not to do that with this space, and instead build toward a different future, which has a beautiful 40 acre park accessible to more than 10,000 people within 4 blocks?Ayd Mill Road runs through what was once a picturesque valley. It had a stream, and a grist mill that gave the road its name. Both are gone now. The valley is still largely brushy, open area, with train tracks and the four-lane highway on its floor. Park supporters say if the highway were removed, the area - and perhaps even the stream - could be restored. Neighborhoods First! members like Jean Madden say such open space is sorely needed.
Madden: It's a really substantial park space that's within walking or biking distance of my home , otherwise I have to get in my car and drive to something like Crosby Park. It would give you a really nice quiet space to walk or ride a bike, rather than having to navigate really congested city streets. For this end of the city, it would be just such a needed amenity.But Planning Commission Steve Gordon disagrees.
Gordon: If you took up the road and replaced it with a park, the road might go away, but the traffic doesn't go away. And approximately 10,000 cars a day that now use Ayd Mill Road would then come up on residential city streets. It would be very unfortunate to inflict those kinds of traffic levels on city residential streets.Many of the city streets around Ayd Mill Road are already clogged with traffic getting from one freeway system to the other. Gordon says connecting Ayd Mill Road to the freeway system will draw the traffic onto Ayd Mill, and provide relief for neighborhood residents.
Watters: Fifty-thousand jobs, that's a significant number, it's second only to downtown St. Paul, in the St. Paul area. So this is a huge job center, and it's important that we be able to get workers to these jobs.Park supporters argue that more roads only bring more traffic and that the long term solution to traffic congestion is mass transit.