MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KMSP) - History was made today in Minneapolis as, for the first time, the East African community will have direct access to downtown with the official opening of the Samatar Crossing.
After a five-year effort, the ramp is now a pedestrian path and bike path.
No longer isolated from downtown, the Cedar-Riverside community is ready to explore the other side of I-35, some of which they’ve never experienced.
“We have a lot of family that live right here, we can all just walk together we don’t have to grab like seven cars eight cars we can do a family walk we can bond, it means a lot,” said Bushra Bihi, a Cedar-Riverside resident.
“To know we can go watch Vikings games, anybody from here we have a lot of walkers, so its’ good that you don’t have to drive so it’s like…it’s easier for people to get to where they need,” said Adam Bihi, another area resident.
But many people see it as much more than a path to get somewhere. The Samatar Crossing is named after the late Hussein Samatar, a Minneapolis School Board member and the first Somali-American elected to public office in Minneapolis. His vision was always about bridging communities. And the new Samatar Crossing is designed to honor his legacy.
“His positive energy, dedication and sense of helping others were remarkable,” said Samatar’s widow Ubah Jama. “Hussein loved this community he was passionate about uplifting people and connecting communities.”
“This is saying to our Somali population, to our new American population, ‘Yes you are part of this city, you matter and we want you here,’” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey about the crossing.
Neighboring communities who were separated by a highway for decades are now joined by a simple bridge, providing new opportunities for those who cross it.
“It’s a very easy walk and I’m very excited about that,” said Minneapolis City Councilor Steve Fletcher. “And I’m very excited to look out at a crowd that includes people from ward three and people from ward six and see us coming together. And see the potential of us enjoying the amenities of both neighborhoods.”
The project here isn't totally done. The mayor says eventually there will be landscaping and artwork along the crossing.