Hennepin Avenue Reconstruction (Douglas to Lake St)

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
twincitizen
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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby twincitizen » April 16th, 2014, 1:39 pm

I honestly never noticed before that you are not allowed to make a left off of southbound Hennepin during either AM or PM peak. I knew about the no-left-turn restriction onto Franklin, since that one is a no brainer. From a recent drive, I observed that the first legal opportunity to make a left turn was at 28th Street. All of these restrictions make perfect sense (trying to get to The Wedge neighborhood? Take SB Lyndale.)

My question for those of you that do drive on Hennepin is: are the peak hour restrictions enough? Is 7-9am and 4-6pm sufficient? Are there any other simple changes or restrictions you would enact to improve traffic flow (and thereby bus travel speeds)?

Similar restrictions do not appear to exist for SB left turns into businesses/curb cuts. Is that an issue for SB traffic flow?

While SB Hennepin no doubt has very high traffic counts in the PM peak, you would think that traffic would/should move right along with no left turns allowed and proper stoplight timing.

(Here's where I get plan-y and optimistic)
Theoretically, if you could squeeze in a dedicated left turn lane at 28th (and/or 26th if those streets get two-way conversions), wouldn't the inner traffic lane be sufficient for traffic flow, and the right traffic lane (Franklin to Uptown Transit Station) be dedicated to buses and right turns?? You could move the bus stops to far-side so right turns would not be impeded. Are there any huge critical flaws in that proposal? Again, this is specifically concerning southbound traffic, which already has a near-total left-turn ban in both peak periods.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby David Greene » April 16th, 2014, 1:49 pm

My question for those of you that do drive Hennepin is, are the peak hour restrictions enough? Is 7-9am and 4-6pm sufficient? Are there any other simple changes or restrictions you would enact to improve traffic flow (and thereby bus travel speeds)?
1. Forbid lefts into Lyle's at all times

2. Put a giant "No Left Turn" sign on the traffic light at 26th like at all the other intersections. It's crazy that every intersection except the one that *always* has a no-left restriction has those big signs.

3. The SA is the other big southbound bottleneck but I don't think it's practical to forbid lefts there, even if only at peak.

Overall I think things work reasonably well given the traffic volumes. I don't see a need to extend peak hours.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby twincitizen » April 16th, 2014, 1:59 pm

Just from a quick trip down Google Street View, I knew the SA was probably an issue. Why not ban left turns into SA? No need gumming up traffic so people can screw around getting gas and smokes during PM peak. Bad behavior should be discouraged. Why wouldn't it be practical if there was a total ban on left turns between Franklin and 28th?

*Note, I buy gas during PM peak, but I perform a right-in, right-out to do it.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby gpete » April 16th, 2014, 2:24 pm

Just from a quick trip down Google Street View, I knew the SA was probably an issue. Why not ban left turns into SA?
There's a Holiday station right across the street from SA. Southbound traffic can make a right turn into Holiday to get their gas and smokes.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby David Greene » April 16th, 2014, 3:27 pm

Sure, we could forbid lefts into the SA but I imaging they'd resist that a bit.

There are some lefts (into apartment buildings and businesses) that just aren't accessible any other way without effectively doing a U-turn so those have to stay. Fortunately, they don't really cause a problem since those movements are really rare IME.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby ECtransplant » April 16th, 2014, 3:40 pm

If I were king, I'd remove the on street parking during rush hour and convert it to dedicated bus ROW

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby David Greene » April 16th, 2014, 4:30 pm

If I were king, I'd remove the on street parking during rush hour and convert it to dedicated bus ROW
Actually, that could probably almost work. There are some shops like Wuollet that I have no doubt benefit from the parking being used by commuters going to work. If the structured parking in the Five Guys mall were advertised better it could serve a district parking function. It wouldn't really help Wuollet but there is plenty of parking between off-street locations on Hennepin and the residential streets in the area pretty much everywhere along Hennepin.

Oh, but I can just imagine the business uproar...

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Minneapolisite » April 16th, 2014, 5:43 pm

If I were king, I'd remove the on street parking during rush hour and convert it to dedicated bus ROW
They've already been doing that in Seattle on the half dozen BRT-lite bus routes they have traversing the city (vs our zero). Business districts there are still full of businesses too.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby twincitizen » April 16th, 2014, 6:41 pm

Is the parking lane 11' wide and totally free of obstructions so the bus mirrors wouldn't hit signs, tree branches, streetlights, etc.? I really doubt that it is.

You couldn't do bus-only curb-lane without completely rebuilding the street, and possibly losing some sidewalk and/or boulevard width. There's also the issue of snow removal. It would have to be plowed bare to the curb (and then removed from the sidewalk/boulevard entirely), otherwise your buses would end up driving halfway in the right lane. I don't think the idea of buses sailing down the curb lane is the most ideal situation either. Parked cars serve as a buffer to make sidewalks feel safer, businesses more inviting, etc.

Regarding David's comment about residential entrances, those folks could use SB Lyndale and access Hennepin via the east-west cross streets. We already ban left turns at intersections from SB Hennepin for a reason...there'd have to be a really compelling case for it not to be a total ban. Are there that many curb cuts directly off Hennepin in the first place?

Regarding the timespan, I'm not convinced 6pm is late enough. 6:30 would be better, and align perfectly with Metro Transit's rush hour pricing. I was just on eastbound Lake at Lyndale, where left turns to NB Lyndale are banned 4-6pm (there are no turn lanes on Lake). Left turning cars at 6:30 pm were still messing things up pretty bad.

min-chi-cbus
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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » April 16th, 2014, 8:17 pm

I honestly never noticed before that you are not allowed to make a left off of southbound Hennepin during either AM or PM peak. I knew about the no-left-turn restriction onto Franklin, since that one is a no brainer. From a recent drive, I observed that the first legal opportunity to make a left turn was at 28th Street. All of these restrictions make perfect sense (trying to get to The Wedge neighborhood? Take SB Lyndale.)

My question for those of you that do drive on Hennepin is: are the peak hour restrictions enough? Is 7-9am and 4-6pm sufficient? Are there any other simple changes or restrictions you would enact to improve traffic flow (and thereby bus travel speeds)?

Similar restrictions do not appear to exist for SB left turns into businesses/curb cuts. Is that an issue for SB traffic flow?

While SB Hennepin no doubt has very high traffic counts in the PM peak, you would think that traffic would/should move right along with no left turns allowed and proper stoplight timing.

(Here's where I get plan-y and optimistic)
Theoretically, if you could squeeze in a dedicated left turn lane at 28th (and/or 26th if those streets get two-way conversions), wouldn't the inner traffic lane be sufficient for traffic flow, and the right traffic lane (Franklin to Uptown Transit Station) be dedicated to buses and right turns?? You could move the bus stops to far-side so right turns would not be impeded. Are there any huge critical flaws in that proposal? Again, this is specifically concerning southbound traffic, which already has a near-total left-turn ban in both peak periods.
Can I offer a quasi-related question/suggestion: digital signs.

In other words, if the "no left turn" sign was digital you could turn it on and off at a whim and not have to worry about making some of these decisions permanently. Personally I'm not sure why there aren't more digital signs and other interchangable options (also including the flashing yellow left-turn signal, which I've heard about being employed more in MN but haven't heard of much implementation).

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » April 16th, 2014, 8:22 pm

Just a simple question, but isn't doing these things like no left turns, etc more of a band-aid that reinforce Hennepin as a through-route from downtown/94 to Lake and points westward, at least during rush hours? If peak flow is so high that we can't justify cutting down from 2 lanes in each direction, and left turns serving businesses and neighborhoods disrupt peak flow so much we must ban them... isn't there something fundamentally wrong with how the region uses Hennepin?

But yes, I think short-term extending the hours of no lefts makes perfect sense to help speed up buses.. I've thought the curb-running peak hour bus lanes would be a great workaround, but twincitizen highlights some solid challenges. It's not like each travel lane is 13' wide to take some space, either..

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby Tcmetro » April 16th, 2014, 10:35 pm

The problem is that Hennepin is the main route between two major centers, Uptown and Downtown. Logically, with more office and residential development in both, traffic is going to increase. There really isn't much that can be done to mitigate traffic problems. Because Hennepin is a diagonal and doesn't have any parallels, through traffic cannot be relegated to a one-way couplet on nearby residential streets, a la Nicollet. Banning left turns would be helpful. Otherwise, bus lanes could be constructed, or perhaps on-street parking could be banned and a center turn lane could be established.

Transit improvements are difficult. Underground light rail is expensive, and Elevated light-rail is a no-go. Streetcars will be caught in the same traffic as cars, and the inflexibility of streetcars to move around turning cars on such a busy street is a clear disadvantage to buses. Buses themselves are a second-rate solution for such a major corridor. So there's no clear "right" option, but something will have to be done in the long run.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby David Greene » April 16th, 2014, 10:39 pm

The problem is that Hennepin is the main route between two major centers, Uptown and Downtown.
Indeed. Hennepin is where it is because of St. Anthony Falls and Lake Calhoun. It's pretty hard to change hundreds of years of transportation habit.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby twincitizen » April 16th, 2014, 11:33 pm

I think that adding SWLRT access at West Lake will alleviate some of that "cut through" automobile traffic using Hennepin. Hwy 100 is being expanded as well, so maybe 100>394 will become more attractive to folks who live in the area between West Calhoun and 100, though I can't imagine many folks living that far west are choosing Lake>Hennepin over the highway. I do think people in the West Calhoun and Dean Parkway area are choosing Lake>Hennepin, because it is their only choice. There is no other route to get downtown. Also, they'd have to put up with a much longer bus ride than someone living in Uptown. It's probably for this same reason that the Hennepin aBRT was envisioned to swing west on Lake Street, rather than continue down Hennepin south of Uptown.

To Alex's question, "Is there something wrong with the way the region uses Hennepin?", I think we'd all say, absolutely yes there is. The problem is that, short of grade separated rail in the corridor, there aren't really any alternatives. At the same time that we are coming up with fixes (SWLRT, more capacity on 100, maybe aBRT in semi-dedicated lanes) we are also rapidly increasing the population and employment in the area, creating more demand. Unless Minneapolis wins the lottery and puts a subway under Hennepin Avenue, it's going to remain a busy through route for the foreseeable future. We have to work with what we've got and try to make the very best of it for a realistic sum of money.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby PhilmerPhil » April 16th, 2014, 11:46 pm

Hennepin currently sucks for everyone: cars, bikes, buses, and peds.

What would happen if we made Hennepin an amazing place for bikes and even better for pedestrians? Yes, it would suck a little more for cars and buses, but I think Minneapolis would be a better place to live because of it, even if took 30 minutes to take a bus from Uptown to downtown. Just imagine a people-oriented Hennepin Ave with a road diet, wider sidewalks with room for cafes and sidewalk sales, and a curb protected bikeway.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby FISHMANPET » April 16th, 2014, 11:58 pm

How wide is Hennepin? What about wider sidewalks, bike lanes, single narrow lane of traffic, and dedicated transit lane in the center including a modern streetcar.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » April 17th, 2014, 5:25 am

I personally don't think Hennepin Ave is this freeway some of you make it out to be, and people who use it are primarily living either along that corridor or points further south and west in the city -- but it's mostly serving city residents. It's perfectly okay for there to be SOME faster-moving streets in Minneapolis, and without Hennepin I can only imagine how awful Lyndale would be.

It's a necessary "evil", if you even want to call it that. That being said, unless the city agrees with many of us here, Hennepin will likely always be designed to be car-first, but that doesn't mean improvements can't be made.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby mnmike » April 17th, 2014, 8:03 am

As someone who has lived a half block off Hennepin for the past 15 years...I really don't see what is so horrible? It could use some streetscape improvements and sure it may be good to play with some of the parking/traffic rules to see if we can get better flow...but really, it doesn't seem that bad to me. Aside from the bottleneck of course, which drives me nuts and is hideous, but I am speaking of the rest of the street through uptown. I rarely see anything more than your typical "i'm in a city" traffic unless there is trouble in the 94 tunnel or construction. I am surprised about all the whining about this street...I mean I see it every single day, and it just looks like a busy city street. Maybe people are just used to streets with no traffic at all? For the amount of traffic it handles, I think Hennepin actually does pretty well. That's not to say that a lot of streetscape improvements aren't needed...just surprised at all of the comments treating this street like it is the worst most congested street ever.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby mplsjaromir » April 17th, 2014, 9:24 am

The problem is that Hennepin is the main route between two major centers, Uptown and Downtown.
Indeed. Hennepin is where it is because of St. Anthony Falls and Lake Calhoun. It's pretty hard to change hundreds of years of transportation habit.
Indeed, in fact it's an ancient hunting path.

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Re: Hennepin Avenue

Postby ECtransplant » April 17th, 2014, 9:28 am

As someone who has lived a half block off Hennepin for the past 15 years...I really don't see what is so horrible? It could use some streetscape improvements and sure it may be good to play with some of the parking/traffic rules to see if we can get better flow...but really, it doesn't seem that bad to me. Aside from the bottleneck of course, which drives me nuts and is hideous, but I am speaking of the rest of the street through uptown. I rarely see anything more than your typical "i'm in a city" traffic unless there is trouble in the 94 tunnel or construction. I am surprised about all the whining about this street...I mean I see it every single day, and it just looks like a busy city street. Maybe people are just used to streets with no traffic at all? For the amount of traffic it handles, I think Hennepin actually does pretty well. That's not to say that a lot of streetscape improvements aren't needed...just surprised at all of the comments treating this street like it is the worst most congested street ever.
It takes unacceptably long to get from uptown to downtown by transit. The congestion isn't too horrible, but it's enough to cause problems for peak hour buses. Combine that with the fact that the buses stop every damn block and getting between downtown and uptown on the bus can be very frustrating


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