The Three Worst Intersections in Minneapolis

This is not a post about traffic management. I don’t have crash statistics or advice on how to create a better bike/ped environment. This is about the three intersections in Our Fair City that have given me the most trouble. The most baffling, frustrating, horribly laid out intersections in all of Minneapolis. This, dear reader, is a post about how directionally incompetent I am. I hope you can relate to at least one of the following three clusterfucks:

#3: Ceder/Franklin/Minnehaha

Look at this! It’s not even an intersection! It’s a triangle! Still, somehow, this “intersection” is a destination for me. There are all sorts of good bars in this area and I’m usually able to find pretty cheap or even free parking. But have you ever gotten out of your car and tried to find anything but the Taco Bell? It took me 45 minutes to find the Cabooze the first time I went to a show there. That time has diminished with each subsequent visit, but it’s not down to a straight line from my car to the bar. There are also just too many crisscrossing, arbitrarily turning streets in one place for my puny little mind. Once I figured this intersection out it wasn’t so bad, but I still hate having to deal with it.

#2: St. Anthony Main

This is another destination area for me: Mac’s Industrial, The Otter, The Bulldog, Nye’s, Surdyk’s, friends’ apartments. Too many streets try to be in the same place at the same time: it’s like all the streets want to touch the White Castle or something. Is the destination on East Hennepin, Central, 1st Avenue, University, 4th Street? Forget it. These, plus all the overlapping ancillary side streets, have turned me around and made me (and many many of my friends) really unsure just exactly where something in this clusterfuck of an area is.

#1: Lake and Hiawatha

When someone gives me directions to a place, and those directions involve going through or near the intersection of Lake and Hiawatha, I immediately ask them if there is a different way I can go. Don’t get me wrong: I can drive on Hiawatha without getting lost. I can drive on Lake without getting lost. I can even turn onto Lake from Hiawatha and vice-versa. But if the directions involve a turn otherwise, HELL NO. I am not lying when I say I have lost a full hour and a half to this intersection more than once. Minnehaha? Snelling? What the hell are these streets doing here, if not to confuse the hell out of me? Where the fuck is 28th? And, for that matter, which 28th am I looking for?

This is an anomaly I’ve only otherwise encountered downtown (which would probably eek in at number four on this list): the street and avenue are in the same number area. Between 26th and 32nd streets and avenues all intersect and seem to alternate street/ave/street/ave in the same parallel progression. And when you finally find the avenue you want going in the direction you want, the avenue your directions tell you to take all the way through this intersection, it’s no longer there! I’m looking at you, 28th Avenue.

Bah! This exercise has gotten my blood all worked up. These are intersections that I truly hate. And I’m not just throwing around “hate” like some third grader talking about school pudding. This is the meaning of hate your mom thinks of when she says, “We don’t say ‘hate,’ it’s such a strong word.”

So what about you? What intersections truly cause you to lose all control and just drive through yards because that’s faster?

(Side note: I did not include St. Paul in this list because the entire city of St. Paul is itself one giant clusterfuck intersection.)

9 Comments so far

  1. doniree on December 5th, 2008 @ 11:06 am

    Ok, this is hilariously spot on. Not totally an intersection, but when I was in school at the UMN, driving anywhere between Harvard Street until you get to the bridge on Washington Ave made me want to gauge my eyeballs out with my iPod. WORST combo of walkers, bikers, skaters, drivers, busses, bladers, etc., where traffic rules were more like "optional suggestions."

  2. Julie (julie) on December 5th, 2008 @ 11:14 am

    I hate 66th and Portland, in Richfield. They turned it into a roundabout. Sure, it’s faster now for drivers (which I am not), but it’s the least pedestrian-friendly intersection I’ve seen in a while. Roundabouts are terrible if you are on foot. At one point, you just have to say "screw it" and walk into the street and hope nobody hits you.

    To be honest, I didn’t know it was supposed to be a roundabout while it was under construction until someone pointed it out. I just thought they really messed up the intersection.

  3. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on December 5th, 2008 @ 11:30 am

    Totally agree on #3.

    As for Saint Paul intersections, they are not too bad. You Minneapolis types just get lost everytime you drive here. Heh!

  4. moe (emoeby) on December 5th, 2008 @ 11:35 am

    I don’t mind Lake and Hiawatha at all, but totally agree on the other two.

    But my least favorite is 38th and Hiawatha, especially driving west on 38th. That stupid light by the Cardinal makes no sense. I’ve been trapped on the light rail tracks while that light was red for no reason.

  5. drivel on December 5th, 2008 @ 11:45 am

    I delivered pizzas in Minneapolis for 2 years. There are all kinds of asinine intersections all over the city. Pretty much anything around Minnehaha is a pain in the arse. Also, the Como Ave SE area between 14th Ave SE and 18th Ave SE has ridiculous turns where the avenue doesn’t connect all the way through. Instead it turns you onto an adjacent avenue as you cross Talmage Ave. God forbid you I had to deliver to a house on those roads. You had to guess whether the house was on the north or south side of Talmage.

  6. aliecat on December 5th, 2008 @ 11:55 am

    The Cedar/Franklin area is pretty bad, but I can’t really jump in on any others, as I hardly ever get lost in Minneapolis (I know, sorry), and I have one of those computerized compasses on my rearview mirror. However, going anywhere in the outer suburbs gives me fits as I ALWAYS get lost (I’m looking at you, Eden Prairie).

  7. katlew on December 5th, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

    Right now my personal hell is Diamond Lake & Nicollet (since I live blocks from there). Basically Diamond Lake is the one open entrance to 35W in SW right now as well as over it freeway. Plus Lyndale until last week or so has been closed in either direction from our area so everyone is using Nicollet instead. Just try turing left at that intersection.

  8. triphibian on December 5th, 2008 @ 2:34 pm

    If you kept all your shopping, dining and drinking to Wal-Mart you wouldn’t have these problems.

  9. elpac on December 7th, 2008 @ 9:32 am

    i always get turned around in longfellow. was my destination on 42nd street or 42nd avenue? who can remember unless you are there regularly?

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