Posts Tagged ‘transit for livable communities’

What to do with the extra lane on I-94?

With the re-opening of the I-35W Bridge, traffic on I-94 south and east of downtown Minneapolis was supposed to get re-striped so it returns to three lanes. It was temporarily converted to four lanes while I-35W traffic was re-routed along I-94 to Hwy 280.

Lots of folks liked having an extra lane and wanted to keep it. As I recall, MnDOT said no because, particularly on the bridges, having no shoulder is not safe when there’s an accident and there’s also the problem of having nowhere to plow the snow to.

According to Transit for Livable Communities, this is no longer the case. The additional reason they cite is because the shoulder was previously available for bus-only traffic during periods of congestion and of course is available to emergency vehicles as well.

Any plan to turn the temporary shoulder lanes into permanent lanes for mixed traffic clearly runs counter to both statutory and agency goals, which call for both safe transportation and increased transit use in urban areas. I-94 without shoulder lanes is simply not as safe as it was previously; federal design guidelines call for 12-foot lane widths, a 10-foot paved shoulder on the right, and a 4-foot paved shoulder on the left.

Further, our region has a national reputation for its bus-only shoulder lanes, which by encouraging transit ridership, are a proven congestion management strategy. When I-94 is very congested and the buses are stuck in mixed traffic, entire bus trips may be missed because drivers are unable to make a second run.

The bus thing, I’m sure, is the only reason TLC even cares, though the safety and snow reasons are perfectly valid as well.

I don’t typically commute that way, so I don’t have a dog in the fight (technically, though there are wider implications than traffic on any given day). But there are several good reasons to return that stretch of highway to its previous configuration.

TLC staff members were told that MnDOT would extensively study the costs and benefits of returning the shoulders to their previous use, and that there would be an opportunity for public input regarding this decision. As of publication, MnDOT has not communicated the dates for the study to begin or when public input will be solicited.

MnDOT’s “Interstate 35W Bridge – Traffic Impacts” page says:

I-94 lane additions between Hwy 280 and I-35W will stay OPEN while the state studies turning them into carpool/toll lanes or another type of managed lane.

So now the whole thing has to be a huge study? Studies cost money. And, wait, now they might be HOV lanes? Where did that come from?

What a cluster. Just restripe the damn road and get it over with.

City of Minneapolis Needs Bicycle Count Volunteers on Sept 9

The city of Minneapolis is conducting its second annual bike and pedestrian count. [last year’s report (pdf)]

They need volunteers to click the counter button (or record a bunch of hashmarks on paper or however they do that) in 2-hour shifts, starting at midnight on Tuesday, 9/9. That’s Monday night/Tuesday morning. Counting will take place for all 24 hours of Tuesday and again from 4-6pm on Wednesday, 9/10, in multiple places around the city.

So open shifts will be:
12am-2am
2am-4am
4am-6am
etc.

Those interested in volunteering may contact Shaun Murphy at shaun.murphy@ci.minneapolis.mn.us or 612.275.5128. Please leave your e-mail address, phone number, a preferred day and time slot, and if desired, a neighborhood where you would like to volunteer. Since these counts are city-wide, we will do our best to place volunteers in convenient locations.

They’re looking for about 100 volunteers. Extra people are needed during the 4-6pm rush hours.

This is important because, while the state of biking in the Twin Cities is already pretty good, data like this helps make it better.

These important counts will begin to establish trend lines showing the impact of biking and walking on Minneapolis streets and trails. The counts will also measure the impact of several bike lane and path improvements…. 24-hour counts will help to establish new knowledge about non-motorized travel during the evening and nighttime hours.

The city is partnering with Transit for Livable Communities on this. TLC will also be conducting a count on these same days and is also in need of volunteers, according to the email I got from the city of Minneapolis, but I can’t find anything about it on their website.

P.S. Volunteers are also needed for the “Freewheelin’ & Bikes Belong” bike share program during the RNC. (pdf)

[Bicycling in Minneapolis]

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