MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Help is on the way for one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in Minneapolis, where Hennepin Avenue and Lyndale Avenue come together near the Walker Art Center.
More than 50,000 vehicles go through that intersection each day.
“I think driving through this area is just terrifying,” said motorist Saijan Weihe, “because there is so many different lanes.”
Engineers for the city are in the preliminary design phase of a major overhaul of the area. The reconstruction project is scheduled to start the summer of 2015, and most of the money for it is coming from a federal grant. It all adds up to about $9 million worth of work.
That work will include repaving the streets and making changes to traffic signals, as well as pedestrian walkways and bicycle crossways.
Those who walk around nearby Loring Park say the reconstruction is much needed.
“[The area] is terrible for pedestrians. That’s for sure,” said Peter Zenner. “I used to live in the Uptown area and would go for walks…and it’s just impossible to walk across the street.”
Some of the upgrades engineers are considering are informational signs to guide drivers into the correct lanes so they are not merging at the last minute.
Engineers have been studying traffic patterns to get a sense of how the timing of traffic signals should be changed. They’ve also been looking at crash data. From that, they’ve learned there’s a higher than normal number of side-swipe accidents in the area.
“I’m sure the construction is needed,” said motorist Abby Drown, “but is probably not something that people will look forward to.”
During the construction project, Minnesotans can look forward to lane closures during the summer of 2015 and possibly several months beyond that.
The lead engineer for the project says it will be an area you’ll want to avoid it you can.
“I hope [the lead designer] is really smart,” Weihe said. “I hope he can figure it out, figure out a way to make it flow better.”
The project engineer said that Hennepin and Lyndale were originally constructed 50 years ago and need to be replaced.
He says their design is outdated, as it was done at a time when pedestrian patterns and bicyclists were not really a factor.