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Penn Avenue community works

Established in 2012, the Penn Avenue community works program is dedicated to stimulating economic development, beautification, livability and job creation along the Penn Avenue corridor in North Minneapolis. It is also designed to support other neighborhood investments, including the Hennepin County Human Services Hub, the Bottineau and Southwest light rail transit (LRT) lines, and enhanced bus rapid transit (BRT) service for the benefit of Penn Avenue corridor neighborhoods. The program area encompasses the corridor between the planned Southwest LRT station near I-394 and Osseo Road and 49th Avenue North.

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Roadway improvements in 2021

As part of the broader Penn Avenue Improvements Project, Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis planned for additional improvements to Penn Avenue between 12th and 15th avenues in Minneapolis. Construction began in early 2021. 

Learn more about the 2021 improvements project.

Penn Avenue Improvements Project

Penn Avenue Improvements Project logo shows a row of circular icons with a car, a bus and people walking.

The Penn Avenue Improvements Project is a collaborative project including the construction of the new Metro Transit C Line rapid bus project and a coordinated reconstruction of parts of Penn Avenue (County Road 2).

Road reconstruction between Lowry and West Broadway avenues occurred in 2018. Additional roadway improvements between 12th and 15th avenues are planned for 2021.

One of the most important needs Penn Avenue communities identified through the Penn Avenue Community Works program was improved transportation services and infrastructure.

In response, Hennepin County partnered with Metro Transit and the City of Minneapolis to make meaningful infrastructure improvements and enhance transportation and transit service and safety throughout the Penn Avenue corridor and Olson Memorial Highway into downtown Minneapolis.

The Penn Avenue Improvements Project includes two major components:

  • C Line rapid bus: Enhanced transit service that includes a package of transit enhancements that adds up to a faster trip and improved experience. Learn more about rapid bus service (YouTube).
  • Road reconstruction: Full reconstruction of a seven block segment of Penn Avenue between West Broadway Avenue and Lowry Avenue North. Improvements include: Safety enhancements for all road users; greening and landscaping; traffic-calming; new sidewalks and improved lighting. Additional roadway improvements will occur in future years.

The community-led vision and planning work organized through the Penn Avenue Community Works program paved the way for these improvements. Thank you to all who dedicated their time and energy to making these projects possible.

Penn Avenue community works has formed three working groups based on focus areas identified in the Penn Avenue Implementation Framework. Each working group advises and guides project implementation efforts, assists with community outreach and engagement efforts and provides community expertise. Learn more about the guidelines for these working groups (PDF).

Housing and economic development/redevelopment

  • Develop land
  • Housing cluster strategy
  • Jobs
  • Repurpose publicly owned lots
  • Renter assistance
  • Possible TOD allocation,
  • And more

Livability and placemaking

  • Play on Penn
  • Community gardens
  • Lincoln school
  • 44th and Penn greening project
  • Community building,
  • And more

Infrastructure and transit

  • Streetscape
  • C Line bus rapid transit (BRT)
  • Penn Avenue intersection reconstruction
  • Road segment reconstruction
  • Bicycle infrastructure
  • Pedestrian lighting,
  • And more

In the next five years, Penn Avenue will benefit from two major public investments: Metro Transit's C Line bus rapid transit (BRT) service and a coordinated redesign of the road that includes streetscape improvements. The Penn Avenue Vision and Implementation Framework leverages those investments with a series of recommendations that are designed to stimulate economic development, promote beautification and enhance livability along the Penn Avenue corridor.

The framework document is the result of more than two years of planning from Hennepin County, the City of Minneapolis, Metro Transit and communities in North Minneapolis. It is intended to guide decision-making and future investments in multimodal transportation, land use, economic development, housing and placemaking. While the Framework has been endorsed by the Penn Avenue Community Works Steering Committee and approved by the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, its success depends on the commitment, focus and actions of all of the partners going forward.

The Penn Avenue Vision and Implementation Framework is available in chapters that can be downloaded separately:

Program goals

1. Re-envision Penn Avenue as a complete street with:

  • Better bus service
  • Pedestrian improvements and bicycle connections
  • Streetscaping (landscaping the street with trees, planters, green space, etc.)

2. Promote economic opportunity and stimulating private investment by:

  • Improving the street and public places
  • Attracting housing and commercial development
  • Supporting existing businesses and attracting new ones

3. Enhance the livability of corridor communities by:

  • Developing better connections to key destinations
  • Improving public places and supporting activities that encourage community gathering and ownership

Program history

The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners established the Penn Avenue community works program in May 2012 to stimulate economic development, beautification, livability and job creation along the Penn Avenue corridor in North Minneapolis.

Program partners

  • Hennepin County
  • Metro Transit
  • City of Minneapolis
  • Stakeholders, including neighborhood and other community organizations
  • People who live, work, play, visit and worship in the corridor

C Line bus rapid transit (BRT) on Penn Avenue

This new transit service will provide fast, reliable bus service with enhanced station amenities similar to those of a light rail transit (LRT) line. The C Line does not require street widening or wide-scale removal of parking lanes. It does offer:

  • Buses that arrive often and make fewer stops, so you'll be moving more of the time.
  • Faster boarding (since you pay your fare before you get on) and fare enforcement by the Transit Police (like the train).
  • Stations with heated shelters, transit information and maps, and real-time departure signs, so you'll always know when the bus is coming.
  • Amenities such as security cameras, emergency phones, and improved lighting to make stations safer.
  • Different, recognizable buses, including wider aisles and additional doors to allow more people to get on and off easily.

More information on BRT, including the proposed C Line route and station locations, is available online from Metro Transit at

About Route 19 and the C Line:

  • Most current users of route 19 will be served by the new C Line.
  • Route 19 will continue to run along Penn Avenue at revised frequencies to meet riders’ needs.

About BRT and the planned Southwest LRT/Green Line Extension:

  • A strong connection to Southwest LRT is planned at Royalston Station, optimizing better service along Olson Memorial Highway and faster travel for most users’ trips.
  • As part of the connecting bus route planning phase for Southwest LRT, other connecting bus service from North Minneapolis to the Penn Avenue LRT station will be considered.
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