Minneapolis City Council Committee exploring options for 38th and Chicago as winter looms

The city of Minneapolis is exploring ways to reopen the 38th and Chicago Avenue intersection to motor vehicle traffic in time for winter.

Community activists and organizers have transformed several blocks around the busy intersection into George Floyd square, putting up barricades to keep vehicles away.

The intersection is where 46-year-old George Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day, sparking weeks of unrest across the city and around the world.

While the city continues to discuss long-term visions and permanent memorials for the area, the goal at the moment is to make sure the roads are free and clear for critical winter services including snow plows and emergency responders.

"I believe that winter conditions will not only exacerbate the access issues, but will hinder the movement of people in their own neighborhoods and between critical neighborhoods," said Robin Hutcheson, the Minneapolis Public Works Director. 

Wednesday, the City Council discussed some minor design adjustments to get the city through the winter rather than coming up with long-term solutions for the area. The city insists it is thinking bigger and trying to reimagine what George Floyd Square might look like in the future, but they are seeking to address more immediate concerns now. 

George Floyd memorial

A aerial view of the memorial to George Floyd at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis. (FOX 9)

The designs presented Wednesday to the Transportation and Public Works Committee include the potential of making the intersection a series of "converging one-ways" for traffic entering the block that would keep fist sculpture in the center.

City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins said, "It does require a more adaptive and or humane approach to how we are dealing with it. I think these designs sort of contribute to that.”

Jenkins added, "We do have to get these roads moving for the winter time so that we can make sure we are serving the residents of this community to the fullest extent possible." 

Wednesday’s City Council Committee briefing focused exclusively on the roads and traffic access and did not address the issue of policing the area.

Further discussions on an interim winter opening plan are scheduled to continue for another couple weeks. The city says it will continue to gather community feedback through Oct. 5, when some decisions will have to be made.