Interstate 94

Roads - Rails - Sidewalks - Bikeways
tmart
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby tmart » December 17th, 2020, 1:21 pm

Not saying I’m for it but, diverting thru traffic on 94 to 494 and 694 and 35W thru traffic to 100, and 35E thru traffic to 494/694. While slowing speeds decreasing lanes to allow for more transit ROW does sound worth looking into long term. Still it seems like throwing away an iPhone 8 while you don’t have money for a new one and ya only got flip phones in the junk drawer.
Section 4.7 (Page 054) of the Phase 1 report suggests that this is kind of already happening:
About half of the trips in the Rethinking I-94 study area originate in the neighborhoods along the corridor.

These shorter trips create congestion on this corridor as large numbers of drivers merge on and off the highway in a concentrated area.

Less than one percent of trips are “through” trips that begin and end west of downtown Minneapolis and east of downtown St. Paul.
Based on that, IMO it doesn't make sense to use a road design adapted to moving people tens or hundreds of miles at high speeds; instead, the corridor should be designed to facilitate shorter trips, and easier access to many destinations. The problem isn't that "short trips cause congestion"; the problem is that grade-separated highways fundamentally don't serve short trips well. And yet from the very start of the project, MnDot hasn't even evaluated concepts that don't include a grade-separated highway!
This is a terrible argument to make to a hypothetical Julie who jus tries to get from Whittier to Lexington pkwy for her job and now his commute takes twice as long even if she decides to take transit
I am, and I suspect pretty much everyone on this website is, super open to the argument that crosstown transit is not nearly good enough. I think everyone here has a half-dozen pet projects they'd propose on how to fix that problem, most of them good ideas.

What I'm not OK with is using that problem as an excuse to commit to pouring loads of money into rebuilding this highway right now, and forcing us to live with it for another couple generations. We could use this construction as an opportunity to build better, faster transit. We could delay full reconstruction on I-94, and divert those resources to needed transit improvements. We need to invert the state's mentality where pouring more money into highways is an immediate, unavoidable need, but transit is a delayable, optional, nice-to-have.

Trademark
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Trademark » December 17th, 2020, 2:14 pm

This is a terrible argument to make to a hypothetical Julie who jus tries to get from Whittier to Lexington pkwy for her job and now his commute takes twice as long even if she decides to take transit
I am, and I suspect pretty much everyone on this website is, super open to the argument that crosstown transit is not nearly good enough. I think everyone here has a half-dozen pet projects they'd propose on how to fix that problem, most of them good ideas.

What I'm not OK with is using that problem as an excuse to commit to pouring loads of money into rebuilding this highway right now, and forcing us to live with it for another couple generations. We could use this construction as an opportunity to build better, faster transit. We could delay full reconstruction on I-94, and divert those resources to needed transit improvements. We need to invert the state's mentality where pouring more money into highways is an immediate, unavoidable need, but transit is a delayable, optional, nice-to-have.
Does transit need more funding? Absolutely zero argument, but this notion that we need to actively cripple the majority of people's method of transportation in order to get it done. This will not help our movement whatsoever. We need to fight for a 50-50 transit highway split. And also have brt projects not turn into glorified highway projects. If 20% of the project is transit then 20% of the money should be from the transit pot.

We need to pick our battles. And trying to destroy a critical piece of infrastructure is gonna look the same to most people as if they blue line was torn up would look to us. This is not how you build coalitions. This is not how meaningful progress is made.

Even if 94 was removed. We do not have the road capacity in the area to handle that traffic. Almost every street over there is 2 lanes especially on the west side of the city. this will make transit worse as there's no space to even create a bus lane in order to move around traffic, or a light rail to do the same. This means we'd have to go for the most expensive argument of grade separation for a majority of the route. Or put a wasteful train in 94 that is 2 blocks from another train for the majority of it's routing.

If we push for ineffecient transit solutions. Our voices will get taken less seriously even by people who would agree with us most of the time. Just like Northstar commuter rail and the Red Line. Both of those projects are a net negative because they were not implemented correctly and are also a drain on Metro Transit's finite operational budget for very few people served. I'm not saying we shouldn't pursue grade separation in places, but we have to be strategic where we push for it. For example North Minneapolis underneath Broadway instead of 2 blocks from the green line.

It seems like there is more focus on holding the purest urbanist position instead of actively trying to make the city's transportation as a whole better. And if we are doing that then we will lose the argument every time.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby DanPatchToget » December 17th, 2020, 3:51 pm

Was people's transportation crippled when the 35W Bridge collapsed? From what I've read, people found other means to get to their destination and it wasn't the apocalypse like a lot of people thought it would be. I think the same would happen with converting I-94 into a boulevard between 280 and I-35E.

Also there would be a big difference between tearing up I-94 through the Midway area and tearing up the entirety of the Blue Line. One of them required bulldozing entire neighborhoods with many people of color living in those neighborhoods, the other is a narrow path that took only a handful of properties. One is used by thousands of fossil fuel burning cars polluting the air in the area it goes through, the other carries thousands of people on quiet electric trains. One is a massive barrier between neighborhoods, the other is also a barrier but easier to cross. One has a controversial history involving racism, the other one doesn't.

Trademark
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Trademark » December 17th, 2020, 5:07 pm

Was people's transportation crippled when the 35W Bridge collapsed? From what I've read, people found other means to get to their destination and it wasn't the apocalypse like a lot of people thought it would be. I think the same would happen with converting I-94 into a boulevard between 280 and I-35E.

Also there would be a big difference between tearing up I-94 through the Midway area and tearing up the entirety of the Blue Line. One of them required bulldozing entire neighborhoods with many people of color living in those neighborhoods, the other is a narrow path that took only a handful of properties. One is used by thousands of fossil fuel burning cars polluting the air in the area it goes through, the other carries thousands of people on quiet electric trains. One is a massive barrier between neighborhoods, the other is also a barrier but easier to cross. One has a controversial history involving racism, the other one doesn't.
People found other ways to get around town when 35w was closed. But yes traffic was much worse and an additional lane was added on 94 that continues to be used today. And 280 was modified into being almost a freeway as it is today. And there was a huge cut through traffic on washington avenue, 10th avenue bridge , central avenue bridge, university and 4th street in order to work around that closure. All of those streets have more capacity then the vast majority of other streets in the area and that was a case of the closure being around a half a mile. (With the freeway detour bypassing 5 miles of 35w).

That's not analogous to 94 being closed at 280 or 55 or 35w permanently to 35e. Which would be anywhere from a 6-9 mile closure. With the only parallel street with more than 2 lanes of capacity being university which the majority of people on here support as a road that needs to be calmed. And the rest of them being small skinny residential streets unfit for any more than 3 lanes at maximum. Plus a major bottleneck around the prospect park area that forces traffic to university because minnehaha, thomas and pierce butler don't go farther west than transfer/cleveland limited mississippi river crossings, and the non-grid around there really only has franklin, and Marshall as alternative east-west streets. And on the east side of that corridor the area around rice and university will probably become one of the most dangerous intersections in the state because of not as many east-west connections right there in addition to a lot of downtown traffic and como avenue feeding traffic through there.

I agree that objectively due to pollution and neighborhood impact, freeways are much worse than transit. But the example isn't from research but instead people's perspective. Very few people recognize the strong correlation with asthma and freeways and other negative effects due to auto pollution. The majority of people will still view the freeway as an asset instead of a negative. When your bringing up the past a better comparison would be the green line which has a controversial history with business displacements and gentrification. Yet it would be foolish to recommend tearing it up.

Knowing the history of the past is important for planning for the future and yes some mitigations of pollution are very important over there. I am in favor of freeway caps. But just because there was a past wrong in planning doesn't mean that the freeway should be ripped up. That won't put people back into their homes who were evicted.

And the question that still hasn't been answered is how will this make transit better? There is no room for bus lanes on any of these streets and even if we created one street that was bus only that would only mean that every other bus would be drowning in congestion and bus bunching would be common and schedules will be delayed. This makes everything objectively worse instead of making transit and transportation as a whole better. Not even beginning to talk about truck traffic, commercial delieveries, repair workers and labormen who need to go to multiple places in a day, and emergency vehicles which will all have a significant impact in the local economy.

Can we get rid of some area freeways. Yes! 36, 169 and 62 are prime candidates in addition to the 4th street viaducts and other spurs. But transportation is not one size fits all.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby DanPatchToget » December 17th, 2020, 6:19 pm

Almost any European city will show that permanently closing a short segment of I-94 wouldn't bring doom and gloom. Of course, their transit is much better than ours, but their cities have little if any urban freeways, and they're not to the scale of our huge interstates. Whether or not we close a short segment of I-94 we need to improve our public transit, and if it were converted into a boulevard it would be very easy to add rail or, preferably, dedicated BRT along it in addition to the potential for creating a bike highway connecting the two cities.

The beltways like the ones you mentioned should be left alone, and in my opinion not widened any further. If we're going to close any freeways in the region it should be the urban segments.

candycaneforestelf
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby candycaneforestelf » December 18th, 2020, 11:33 am

Given there were between 140k and 160k AADT on 94 at any given segment between 35E and 35W in 2019 (per MnDot's traffic visualizer app) a full removal would absolutely not be popular so unfortunately it's probably not wise to remove it if we want political support for transit.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby DanPatchToget » December 18th, 2020, 12:15 pm

Given there were between 140k and 160k AADT on 94 at any given segment between 35E and 35W in 2019 (per MnDot's traffic visualizer app) a full removal would absolutely not be popular so unfortunately it's probably not wise to remove it if we want political support for transit.
It wouldn’t be a full removal, it would be a conversion to a boulevard. And how much of that traffic could easily take alternative routes? How much of that traffic are people who just wouldn’t end up driving if I-94 was converted along that segment?

Trademark
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Trademark » December 18th, 2020, 7:55 pm

Given there were between 140k and 160k AADT on 94 at any given segment between 35E and 35W in 2019 (per MnDot's traffic visualizer app) a full removal would absolutely not be popular so unfortunately it's probably not wise to remove it if we want political support for transit.
It wouldn’t be a full removal, it would be a conversion to a boulevard. And how much of that traffic could easily take alternative routes? How much of that traffic are people who just wouldn’t end up driving if I-94 was converted along that segment?
How many more crashes and traffic deaths would result from creating a long stroad that handles way more traffic then it was ever intended too.

grant1simons2
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby grant1simons2 » December 18th, 2020, 8:50 pm

That's not really the alternative being proposed by DanPatch. I'm sure they're thinking more along the lines of a modern (classical) boulevard design with safety measures in place to support the capacity, and future de-capacity. You literally gotta spend maybe 10 minutes on streetview in the Netherlands, Germany, France, or Argentina to see what that can look like.

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Bob Stinson's Ghost
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Bob Stinson's Ghost » December 18th, 2020, 9:55 pm

What would be the plan for the semis and heavy trucks? University?

tmart
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby tmart » December 19th, 2020, 8:17 am

What would be the plan for the semis and heavy trucks? University?
When we talk about a boulevard to replace I-94, that would still be a major street which could support trucks and the like. This isn't a greenway or a woonerf or something like that. It would just be better adapted to the urban context: regular intersections, instead of a few bottleneck exit ramps; facilities for pedestrians and cyclists including safe crossings; lower speed designs and limits; transit; buildings/parks/etc alongside instead of large ditches; and so on.

As grant1simons2 mentions above this is not at all an unusual design, and the norm in other regions, especially Europe, is for highways to go up to the edge of the urban core, but then transition to a boulevard while crossing the city, and then back to highway when exiting the urban core. Here's a North American example; this spot in Montreal, the entrance to downtown coming off the Champlain Bridge, used to be an elevated highway but was turned into a boulevard a few years ago. You can see how the transition between highway and boulevard works super clearly.

Trademark
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Trademark » December 19th, 2020, 9:07 am

What would be the plan for the semis and heavy trucks? University?
When we talk about a boulevard to replace I-94, that would still be a major street which could support trucks and the like. This isn't a greenway or a woonerf or something like that. It would just be better adapted to the urban context: regular intersections, instead of a few bottleneck exit ramps; facilities for pedestrians and cyclists including safe crossings; lower speed designs and limits; transit; buildings/parks/etc alongside instead of large ditches; and so on.

As grant1simons2 mentions above this is not at all an unusual design, and the norm in other regions, especially Europe, is for highways to go up to the edge of the urban core, but then transition to a boulevard while crossing the city, and then back to highway when exiting the urban core. Here's a North American example; this spot in Montreal, the entrance to downtown coming off the Champlain Bridge, used to be an elevated highway but was turned into a boulevard a few years ago. You can see how the transition between highway and boulevard works super clearly.
This example is still not a good solution. A 6 lane road with traffic lights every few blocks. Basically what university was before light rail. University was and is still a mess. And a dangerous road because people try to cut around each other in order to beat traffic lights. Just like Hiawatha. This is not a good thing and doesn't benefit anyone. Calm the frontage roads and put protected bike lanes on them. Double the pedestrian crossings on 94. Implement strategic freeway caps. Implement BRT. All of these will have way more benefit for everyones mobility. Transit, pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers.

DanPatchToget
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby DanPatchToget » December 19th, 2020, 9:29 am

What would be the plan for the semis and heavy trucks? University?
When we talk about a boulevard to replace I-94, that would still be a major street which could support trucks and the like. This isn't a greenway or a woonerf or something like that. It would just be better adapted to the urban context: regular intersections, instead of a few bottleneck exit ramps; facilities for pedestrians and cyclists including safe crossings; lower speed designs and limits; transit; buildings/parks/etc alongside instead of large ditches; and so on.

As grant1simons2 mentions above this is not at all an unusual design, and the norm in other regions, especially Europe, is for highways to go up to the edge of the urban core, but then transition to a boulevard while crossing the city, and then back to highway when exiting the urban core. Here's a North American example; this spot in Montreal, the entrance to downtown coming off the Champlain Bridge, used to be an elevated highway but was turned into a boulevard a few years ago. You can see how the transition between highway and boulevard works super clearly.
This example is still not a good solution. A 6 lane road with traffic lights every few blocks. Basically what university was before light rail. University was and is still a mess. And a dangerous road because people try to cut around each other in order to beat traffic lights. Just like Hiawatha. This is not a good thing and doesn't benefit anyone. Calm the frontage roads and put protected bike lanes on them. Double the pedestrian crossings on 94. Implement strategic freeway caps. Implement BRT. All of these will have way more benefit for everyones mobility. Transit, pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers.
No one is proposing converting I-94 into a suburban stroad. This is what I'm thinking when I say converting I-94 into a boulevard between 280 and 35E:
131567037_10220494621609517_6485331544097391842_o.jpg
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alexschief
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby alexschief » December 19th, 2020, 9:52 am

Any total rethinking of I-94 should include not just a boulevard design, but also a narrowing of the entire right-of-way.

From St. Anthony to Concordia, the width of the highway is about 285'. You could build a pretty supercharged street and still have half of the ROW left over. Ideally you would build your road on the north half of the trench, and then fill the south half in and make it available for redevelopment so that it could be part of a neighborhood again.

tmart
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby tmart » December 19th, 2020, 11:13 am

Any total rethinking of I-94 should include not just a boulevard design, but also a narrowing of the entire right-of-way.

From St. Anthony to Concordia, the width of the highway is about 285'. You could build a pretty supercharged street and still have half of the ROW left over. Ideally you would build your road on the north half of the trench, and then fill the south half in and make it available for redevelopment so that it could be part of a neighborhood again.
Yes, absolutely. There are so many trade-offs beyond mobility that get ignored in MnDOT's planning process, which essentially starts by figuring out how to move as many cars as quickly as possible, and then works backwards from that premise to incorporate some mitigations. One of those many underappreciated trade-offs is the enormous amount of high-value, well-located land we could put to more productive uses.

The St. Paul trench, as you mention, could host loads of new housing and commercial uses just blocks from the Green Line, walking distance from universities and lots of residents. Same goes for the various spaghetti junctions along the way; it blows my mind that we decided that ramps between 35W and 94 were a good use for, effectively, a dozen square blocks of Downtown. We don't consider the opportunity cost of the billions of dollars worth of urban land underneath these highways when we budget them out.

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Bob Stinson's Ghost
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Bob Stinson's Ghost » December 19th, 2020, 6:42 pm

The passenger traffic seems pretty flexible. People can switch to bikes, transit, etc. But the truck traffic is kind of built into the area right now, with the intermodal yard and the big industrial zone around 280. If the boulevard had a lot of trucks coming to a dead stop at intersections and then starting up again it would be a lot like University used to be.

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nBode
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby nBode » December 20th, 2020, 3:46 pm

How possible/likely would it be for 94 to be officially rerouted along 694 and the interior portion ceded to the state or counties? That could at least make future changes more easily-implementable, maybe? According to Google Maps, it's already faster to use 694 if going through the cities, so it seems like the official route should do that.

As for the road design ultimately a boulevard would be the best solution, but for the interim, I think converting one lane to buses with inline stations would at least give the ROW to easily convert to rail in the future. Strategic caps/developed bridges would go a long way toward negating the chasm it is.

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Re: Interstate 94

Postby Tom H. » December 21st, 2020, 8:32 am

I believe that, when entering the metro from either the east or west on I-94, there is a sign indicating "Minneapolis / St Paul bypass use I-694", meaning that's already effectively the official routing for through traffic.

uptownbro
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Re: Interstate 94

Postby uptownbro » December 21st, 2020, 9:51 am

You are correct it does state 694 as the bypass around the downtowns already.
This is just a political nonstarter for many people in the short term. The best we can hope for is a dedicated bus lane/stop like I35W and strategic caps/bridges along the way. Maybe roll the dice on removing the viaduct in the north loop. Once this happens and the value is shown to the avg person who goes to a twins game or works downtown then a deeper conversation can occur.
I remember being in Boston in 2008 when the big dig was the biggest joke in town. Now its viewed as a success.
I think riverside and north Minneapolis are the areas that would benefit the most from some sort of tunnel/caps

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Re: Interstate 94

Postby talindsay » December 21st, 2020, 10:05 am

Yeah, I think the freeways inside the 494/694 loop should never have been built, but since they were, it's not even vaguely feasible in the current reality to remove them. I'm not saying it's a bad idea, I'm saying it's not going to happen until a lot of other cultural, political, and economic factors change dramatically. Mitigating the impact of that infrastructure on the urban fabric in the core is achievable and desirable. I think a few well chosen overpass "capping" projects could demonstrate the value of hiding the freeways from the urban fabric, especially in areas where land is more valuable, where private developers might be eager to take advantage of reclaimed "land" on the two sides of a freeway overpass.


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