BY COUNCILOR STOVER:
RESOLVED, that, in accordance with Minnesota Rules Chapter 8820.3300, the city of Duluth requests that the Minnesota commissioner of transportation grant to the city a variance from Chapter 8820, vertical clearance for underpass urban design standards for Minnesota Bridge No. 69676 at Lake Avenue, MSAS 140 (pedestrian skywalk over Lake Avenue, City Job No. 0457TR), reducing the urban design state aid vertical clearance standards from 15'6" to 14'6" in order to accommodate practical limitations related to floor and structural support elevations at the Technology Village parking structure.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The purpose of this resolution is to formalize the city’s request that the Minnesota commissioner of transportation grant a height variance for the skywalk bridge to be constructed over Lake Avenue connecting the Tech Village parking ramp into the city skywalk system.
When the Tech Village and the adjacent parking ramp were constructed, the design included a skywalk connection from the main court in the Tech Village across the alley to the parking ramp and along the alley to the southwest corner of the ramp where the structure was designed to receive a skywalk bridge across Lake Avenue to the northeast corner of the building located on the west side of Lake Avenue and Superior Street, just south of the alley. Because Lake Avenue is a Minnesota State Aid street for which the city receives state assistance, the elevation of the structure in the ramp intended to receive the bridge was designed to meet the then-existing vertical clearance design standard of 14'6".
In the interval since the construction of the ramp, the state has changed the design standards for MSA streets, raising the vertical clearance design standard from 14'6" to 15'6". In order to meet the new design standard, the city would be forced to make substantial, and expensive, modifications to the ramp structure.
The commissioner of transportation has the authority to grant variances from the vertical design standards for good cause shown. City staff, along with its consultant, plans to request such a variance and is hopeful that the commissioner will grant the request but the request will not be considered unless the city council makes a formal request for it. This resolution would constitute such a formal request.