We've got spirit, yes we do. We've got sprit, now how about a crosswalk, too?

Will the city create a safe passage for Tangletown's Washburn students?

Let me start off by saying I’m not from-from here.  But when I travel, I tell people I’m from Minneapolis. Even though I’ve lived in the city for 17 years, I quickly follow it up with, “Oh, but I’m not from-from there. I grew up in Northwest Ohio. Toledo.” 

I graduated from an urban high school built about the same time as Washburn. It could have been Washburn’s cousin from out East. When I toured the school with my son, I expected to see friends with upturned collars, skinny ties and bi-levels leaning on radiators. (Ah, the ’80s.)

I lived within rolling-out-of-bed distance of my alma mater. All I had to do was cross a sleepy side street to slide in the school’s side door. Growing up, the high school was my playground.  The bleachers, great for hide-and-seek. The shop class’ auto ramp, perfect for bike races. The football practice field, a cultivator of blossoms for groovy clover necklaces. Almost everyone in my neighborhood went to that high school. Their brothers and sisters went to that high school. In fact, a lot of their parents did, too.

For a few years now, Washburn High School has been asking us back into its fold. And the children of the community are returning. In fact, Mayor R.T. Rybak said on MPR, “…Washburn High School for instance, which had been really a challenged school for a while, is now one of the, if not THE, hottest school in Minneapolis. That is progress and that’s great.” (MPR Midday, January 6, 2012.) 

That is great, but how about giving all students safe passage to Washburn? Students from the blocks that put the Tangle in Tangletown have to cross 50th to get to school. Instead of a sleepy side street, they cross a very busy one. (Not to mention, all those little future Millers who walk, scooter and bike the same route to Fuller Park soccer games held on Washburn’s grounds.)

Traveling westbound on 50th, Gladstone is just beyond two curves, which can obscure pedestrians. With the Lyndale Avenue Bridge closed until October, traffic on 50th has surely increased. 

Tangletown needs a crosswalk with white pavement markings and signage at the corner of Gladstone and 50th.  (Since you’ve got the brush out, how about adding some markings at Wentworth and 50th, too?) 

Washburn Principal, Carol Markham-Cousins said for nearly four years she’s been asking the city for a crosswalk. 

This spring, I too sent a formal request to Ward 11 City Council member, John Quincy. Traffic Engineer, Jonette Kuhnau conducted a field survey which concluded: “She did not observe a major problem for students crossing 50th Street. She also reported that crossings are only marked when there are safety patrols at the crossing locations. With the significant cost associated with flashers and the low number of students crossing, she did not feel that any changes should be made at this time.” 

At that point, I thought it would take a fatality to make “the significant cost” worthwhile.

This summer, Principal Markham-Cousin sent an e-mail to parents saying, “Finally we have the attention of the city to address the need to create a crosswalk on 50th Street. They have promised signage and painting of the street. We will support this effort by having an adult present at the crossing during the busy times.”

Let’s see if the city really is behind Washburn’s successful cross over, especially when you’re a teen just trying to walk to school. 


Julie Fulton is a freelance writer who looks both ways before crossing in Tangletown.


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