While Anoka County is not an urban or metropolis area, the area is now home to more than a handful of climate-controlled walkways. The latest soon to be $4.5 million installment will be a 585-foot walkway that will transport hospital personnel over Coon Rapids Boulevard from Mercy Hospital to a new medical building that is soon to be opened.
“Physicians will be occupying the new building and we will have a surgery center in the building, so they need the access to go back and forth to see patients at hospital,” Brandi Lunneborg, Operations VP for Allina Health System, said. “It’s Minnesota and it’s winter. The docs go back and forth a lot.”
With Minnesota being such a cold climate for a large portion of the year and a hot and humid climate the rest, a skyway is an easy way to transport pedestrians comfortably from point A to point B. Besides this new hospital skyway, Anoka Ramsey Community College opened a new 103-foot walkway from their refurbished music building to a brand new visual arts center.
Anoka has nine skyways with two more on the horizon, a seemingly odd trend for a relatively non-urbanized area. The benefits are noteworthy, walking from one place to another in the comforts of a controlled climate, but does that outweigh the cost of erecting such expensive structures? The state and county funded projects cost in the millions, a price tag that leaves you wondering if said funds couldn’t be serving better purposes around the county.
The debate can rage on, but for the time being, the soon to be eleven skyways stand as somewhat of a prideful badge for some Anoka County residents, a manufactured solution to the unpredictable Minnesota climate.