Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction (Douglas to Lake St)

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Tcmetro
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Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction (Douglas to Lake St)

Postby Tcmetro » October 8th, 2013, 8:35 am

I wanted to start a topic about Hennepin Avenue, to discuss the future possibilities of the roadway. Considering SW LRT, Midtown LRT, and Nicollet Streetcar as well as the 35W/Lake project are underway and will likely be finished in the next 10-12 years, there will be significant implications for this section of Minneapolis. The biggest problem identified with the 3A option for SW LRT was the lack of improved transit service between Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis. Hennepin Avenue is aging as is the Lowry Hill Tunnel and the Hennepin/Lyndale intersection and I would imagine some large scale projects will be developed over the next 20 years.

There has been some discussion about the future possibilities for Hennepin Ave:

Arterial BRT - converting parking lanes into bus lanes, reducing the number of bus stops, improving service frequency.

Streetcar - adding a streetcar to Hennepin Ave. I think a good idea would be to have an exclusive lane and median stations along Hennepin Avenue from Gateway Park (where the Nicollet and Hennepin lines would diverge) to Lake Street. Perhaps the streetcars could be longer than the 66ft units that are so common in the US, and maybe we could have multiple-unit trains. Also a branch along Dunwoody to the Van White Station could provide good access to Loring Park, MCTC, and the Theatre District.

Car-free street - I recall a post on streets.mn that suggested that Hennepin become a car-free street. Probably not a good idea, IMO.

Subway - Underground train line connecting Downtown, Uptown, SW Mpls, and the Southdale area. Probably would have good ridership, but a bit expensive. Edina could be easily served by a branch of 35W BRT as well.

Whatever happens, there is a lot of traffic on Hennepin. Any option will reduce car capacity. I suppose the questions are; will the traffic migrate to transit? What mitigations will have to be made to make sure that Lyndale and 1st/Blaisdell don't get overloaded with traffic?

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woofner
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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby woofner » October 8th, 2013, 10:33 am

I'm pessimistic about any transformation in the attitude of local policymakers in favor of actual useful transit and away from shiny trains - pandering to the middle class is just too ingrained (and effective) in American politics, and the middle class here will never care about anything but driving. But the simplest, easiest, cheapest, most useful thing that could be done would be to change the parking lanes on most arterials into peak bus lanes. However in Minneapolis the outside through/parking lane is typically 20' wide, so that would mean a 10' transit lane, and I'm not sure even Metro Transit would be comfortable with that. On the four-lane arterials, it would be great if one of the through lanes could be 9' for an 11' peak bus/parking lane (i.e. 11-9-10-10-9-11), but to these people even a peak bus lane is a radical notion, having a lane that is narrow enough that you actually have to pay attention while driving in it is unimaginable.
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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby MNdible » October 8th, 2013, 4:25 pm

On the four-lane arterials, it would be great if one of the through lanes could be 9' for an 11' peak bus/parking lane (i.e. 11-9-10-10-9-11), but to these people even a peak bus lane is a radical notion, having a lane that is narrow enough that you actually have to pay attention while driving in it is unimaginable.
As I recall, they had Lyndale Avenue running in something like this configurtation during the reconstruction of Hennepin Avenue (or at least I think that was when it happened). It seemed to work pretty well, although as has been noted previously, it probably degraded the sidewalk experience. Also, I think this work was all done over the course of a single construction season, so this configuration was never tested in wintertime conditions.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Chef » October 8th, 2013, 8:11 pm

If nothing else they should at least increase bus headways on Hennepin and Lyndale. It would probably be more useful than building suburban BRT that nobody will use or streetcars that don't improve service. Right now the 6, 17 and 4 are all like cattle cars during rush hour and are still mostly full during off peak hours.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Chef » October 9th, 2013, 10:49 am

Business will never go for the removal of parking on Hennepin. As it is, parking is the single most common complaint you hear from your customers if you run a business along Hennepin. People are allergic to parking on a side street and walking a block or two to their destination (which has always annoyed me, but you have to listen to your customers). At Duplex, when we had business in front of the East Iles neighborhood board we heard many complaints from residents about people parking on their blocks to patronize the businesses on Hennepin, which is ridiculous IMO, but that is the opinion of the neighborhood and they are not going to go for more of it.

There isn't enough population in the neighborhood to support all the retail storefronts, so much of greater Uptown is reliant on drawing from the rest of the city and metro in general. The reality is that most people will not take the bus from St Louis Park or St Paul to go shopping or eat in Uptown, so there needs to be parking for them. I know the idealists who frequent this forum wish it was otherwise, but it is not.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » October 9th, 2013, 11:08 am

Let's not pretend that there's some solution that makes everybody happy here, and get down to values.

A streetcar running in mixed traffic is literally just a shiny train. It provides no service improvement. The only merit a streetcar could have is that it could finally lure those choice riders going to Uptown, with the hopes of eventually giving transit a dedicated lane on Hennepin.

A tunnel under Hennepin would be great, but I'm guessing it's too expensive to be reasonably considered in a reasonable time frame. Something elevated could work too, but nobody seems to like those so that's out.

Taking a parking lane for transit means less parking on Hennepin, with the benefit being that now you can move people rather than store cars (obviously I've made my own values clear in that statement).

I'd be really excited if any public debate was ever framed this way, but it never is, so welp. But we can at least do better here.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Chef » October 9th, 2013, 11:23 am

Politics is about what is doable, not what is ideal. The number of people who see on street parking as "their parking" is significantly higher than those who see it as "evil car storage". So taking parking off of Hennepin is a non-starter regardless of whether or not it is a good idea. On street parking is the third rail of modern American urban politics. Most people have cars and they want to be able to put them somewhere when they aren't using them. Witness the push to re-establish parking minimums in Portland:

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index ... -park.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index ... andar.html

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » October 9th, 2013, 11:56 am

While they're at it, then, they should push to add in mattress and bed frame minimums, television minimums, mandatory internet service, and any number of other things people like/need to use on a daily basis.

Seriously though. It's not that hard. If parking on Hennepin in completely at capacity, during peak hours, then the answer is to charge more for it. And while they're at it, charge for the spaces along the many cross-streets - with Hennepin being at a diagonal it has the benefit of seeing 2x the on-street spaces within a quarter mile of it.

People are completely irrational about parking. That includes businesses and parkers. People were completely irrational about integrating races in schools, they still are about allowing same-sex marriage, a large chunk of America doesn't believe climate change is real, and there are thousands of other examples that have and will transpire. Politics is not just about doing what's feasible. It's about making decisions that have impacts for everyone (not just the loudest) in the most positive way possible. Minneapolis has a Climate Action Plan; why have it if you're not willing to make very small changes that can reduce VMT emissions? Removing parking lanes on Hennepin to allow (already full and successful) transit to move faster and more frequently is not a "war on cars." People will simply have to park an extra 150' further from Red Savoy's Pizza to eat there, and maybe pay $0.15/hour more. Big deal, get over it.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby woofner » October 9th, 2013, 1:13 pm

In light of the gore I'm now wiping off of my forehead from all the heads that exploded when I mentioned the concept of using a parking lane as a peak-hour bus lane, let me explain what that actually means.

It means that during rush hour, parking will be prohibited in the parking lane in the peak direction. Rush hour may be 6-9:30, but it is more likely that this would be in effect from 7-9 or even less time. Parking will only be prohibited on the side of the street in the peak direction. Parking will not be prohibited on the side of the street that is not in the peak direction. Ergo, parking will still be available on the other side of the street.

This doesn't mean that parking will be removed. Parking will still be there on one side of the street, and it will be there on both sides of the street for at least 20 hours of every single day, as well as 24 hours on weekends. In my experience, even the free parking has low occupancy in most business districts during the morning rush. Business districts tend to be around intersections, which tend to be where the congestion is too. It would even be possible to start out by just doing peak-hour bus lanes during the morning peak only in business districts only, measure how much faster the buses are and how the world hasn't ended, and decide from there if it might be worthwhile to make people park across the street from Green Mill between 4:30 and 6:30.
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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » October 9th, 2013, 2:21 pm

woofner's idea is obviously the extremely politically palatable one that doesn't ask for anything but a lane in 1 direction for 4 hours a day. If that's not a possible reality, I don't know what we can do in this country.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Anondson » October 9th, 2013, 3:20 pm

I really like the idea of the two hour parking limitation on the in-demand side of the street. Lots of sense in an ideal setting. It would stop a minor peeve, the people who decide to park while during rush hour. Whose attempt at parking ends up stopping all traffic in a lane while they negotiate getting into that parking spot, maybe even inducing fender benders behind them among people not anticipating the stoppage of traffic in their lane.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » October 9th, 2013, 3:41 pm

Another reason to eliminate parking during rush hour, increases road throughput! Suck it war on cars!

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby MSPtoMKE » October 10th, 2013, 6:55 pm

I could certainly be making this up, but I could have sworn there were already some peak parking restrictions on Hennepin. Specifically, around Franklin or 24th is were I seem to remember seeing them, in the peak direction.
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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby UptownSport » October 11th, 2013, 8:53 am

Yes, and North of Franklin.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby UptownSport » October 14th, 2013, 12:50 pm

I continue to believe some on UrbanMSP view the issue as a 1:1 trainset that will now have cars zipping up and down Hennepin too, but not stopping.
The actual cars actually have people in them, and those people like to stop at the businesses along Hennepin (perhaps when they're already commuting- It's efficient!) The businesses like those people to stop in. Businesses need to have re-supply, generally not achieved with autos, pedestrians or mass transit- So punishing autos and businesses doubles when goods can't flow.

The ideal system would run grade separate from existing transportation, bicyclists, pedestrians and other mass transit.
This is the norm for both foreign and domestic high density for over 100 years.

We've got a tunnel going thru the woods only a few thousand yards away, so we're getting closer ...

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby talindsay » October 14th, 2013, 4:01 pm

The ideal system would run grade separate from existing transportation, bicyclists, pedestrians and other mass transit.
This is the norm for both foreign and domestic high density for over 100 years.

We've got a tunnel going thru the woods only a few thousand yards away, so we're getting closer ...
I agree with this sentiment, and I think most people here do. Tunnels are being dug less now than they were even twenty years ago almost *everywhere* though - even cities such as Paris, London, and Barcelona are accepting some surface rail for new projects because they don't think they can justify the higher costs for digging a tunnel any more, and so it's hard for Minneapolis to pony up. This, of course, makes the Southwest scenario even more absurd and frustrating, but that's a different topic.

Regarding the argument that surface transit (with or without rails) will disrupt traffic flow too much if it causes parking restrictions though, I think you need to keep in mind that no delivery driver in his right mind would attempt to deliver goods during rush hour on Hennepin as it stands right now; deliveries to restaurants typically happen either before or after the morning rush, not during it, and non-perishable business goods are almost always delivered at night or, in rare cases, in the afternoon before rush hour. You're certainly right that loss of parking at rush hours would likely cost businesses a certain amount of rush-hour business, and so any such plan would need to identify mitigation steps, but it's definitely a concern about private auto traffic and it's impact on the retail side of business, not commercial traffic or deliveries.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » October 14th, 2013, 4:06 pm

Also, I don't think that anyone here is going to say that in a vacuum, a tunnel in Kennilworth makes more sense than a tunnel on Hennepin, but these things don't happen in a vacuum. I'm not sure who you're raging against UptownSport, but I don't think they post here.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby UptownSport » October 15th, 2013, 9:37 am

This, of course, makes the Southwest scenario even more absurd and frustrating, but that's a different topic.
We do have one who said Uptown transit is excellent.
Need I quote?
I dont think tunneling through the woods specifically to avoid Uptown / South is a different subject at all. I'm not sure what you would be thinking when you write that.

Again, the idea is to serve people, not move trains.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Wedgeguy » November 21st, 2013, 3:43 pm

Hennepin seems to remain in flux. With some stores moving around there will be more emphasis now on retail. Has anyone that drive Hennepin on a daily basis noticed a large increase in traffic due to the new developments.

With the end of exterior construction on the library. I hope that they have Hennepin finally opened to all lanes at Lagoon and Hennepin.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » January 23rd, 2014, 9:20 pm

GGW proposes peak hour bus-only lanes in DC, a very similar situation to what we have on Hennepin:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/pos ... th-street/


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