Bicyclists, Pedestrians Unhappy with Midtown Power Substation

Updated: 10/31/2012 7:58 AM KSTP.com By: Chris Egert

There's a brewing debate in Midtown over a new Xcel Energy power substation.

The facility will be built right along the Midtown Greenway - and some bicyclists are taking issue with it.

The substation will be built east of Hiawatha on 28th. The bike path runs next to where the substation will go. 

One thing everyone agrees on this will NOT look like a substation when it is complete.

Xcel's new Hiawatha West substation will have stonewalled base with giant metal screens to cover up all the electrical stuff inside. 

It's something that's never been done before according to Xcel’s Joe Samuel, “We are very excited about this substation - we are very excited about the public process we went through to come up with the substation design."

The issue isn't how it looks - but how much of the new substation will be covered up with the fancy meshy material.

Xcel had to scale back due to budget reasons - now most but not ALL of it will be blocked from view.

So at a meeting Tuesday night members of the Midtown Greenway Coalition expressed their concerns.  They want more artsy covering - with less substation showing, as initially agreed upon, after months of public meetings on the subject with the power company.

Even the Sierra Club is also weighing in.

"People on bicycles, and the people walking on the trail are really getting the short end of the stick here,” said Joshua Houdek, with Sierra Club.

The Hiawatha West substation is one of two new substations planned for Midtown Minneapolis, and part of a larger project to upgrade the electric infrastructure in the area. 

Parts of the neighborhood discussions that have been going on for months have been regarding placing the new power lines below 28th street.

Xcel says it will take these new complaints over esthetics into consideration.  They have some time to get things sorted out - work isn't supposed to be complete until June of 2014.