Minneapolis city leaders open ‘Samatar Crossing’ connecting Cedar-Riverside with downtown

August 23, 2018 GMT

Minneapolis city leaders and residents came together Thursday to mark the opening of Samatar Crossing a former freeway ramp converted into a crossing for pedestrians and bicycles connecting downtown with the citys Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

Named after former Minneapolis school board member, the late Hussein Samatar, the project was announced in 2013 by then-Mayor R.T. Rybak. In 2010, Samatar became the first Somali immigrant elected to public office in Minnesota, and perhaps in the country, after he was elected to the school board. He died in 2013.

Mayor Jacob Frey said the crossing provided a direct route from the neighborhood to downtown Minneapolis something Cedar-Riverside lacked for far too long.

This crossing is an honor to Samatar who worked to bridge communities, Frey said during the opening ceremony.He did it figuratively; this (crossing) is doing it literallly.

The Citys public works department repurposed the former Fifth Street ramp to downtown Minneapolis into a welcoming pathway for people walking and biking. The crossing features separate pathways for people walking and biking and new pedestrian-scale lighting.

Back in 2010, Samatar had emerged as one of the most influential voices within the Somali community, forging alliances with power brokers such as Rybak and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison. The crossing assumes significance because it gives the neighborhood, the epicenter of the Somali community, direct access to downtown Minneapolis for the first time.

Samatars widow, Ubah Jama, and her children cut the ribbon during the opening ceremony.

Although we grieve and miss him, yet we are thankful for the memories and legacy he has left behind, she said.

He (Samatar) was passionate about uplifting people and connecting communities. Now children, individuals and seniors will able to bike and walk in the beautiful background that I see, she said.

Gulam Jeelani 612-673-4280