Minnehaha Avenue Traffic Projections

A person travels Minnehaha by bicycle. Photo via TC Daily Planet

Hennepin County is planning to reconstruct Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis and is asking the community about a couple of design options.  According to our own Sam Newberg, who attended the last community meeting and has some great questions for the County, the County is suggesting traffic will grow at 1% per year on Minnehaha for the next 25+ years.

We’ve been here before.  Continued annual growth in traffic is inconsistent with city, state, national and developed world trends in VMT and VMT per capita.  And unlike in the case of Washington Avenue, Hennepin County has not provided a traffic analysis to justify the number, at least not on their website.  A look at the actual traffic counts on Minnehaha on the section in question shows AADT hit a peak in 2006 or before.  The new Minnehaha, with 10,000 AADT compared to Washington’s 25,000 AADT, will mostly have the same number of thru-lanes as the new Washington Avenue.

Again, many questions are raised: if County traffic projections can incorporate assumptions about how the City wants to grow, why can’t they incorporate City goals about mode shift and bicycle transportation?  Hennepin County itself has pledged to reduce county-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.  Can they do this while planning for the ever-expanding use of the private automobile, especially in the most dense parts of the county were non-auto transportation works best?  If Hennepin County is investing tons of money to improve the pedestrian experience, expand TOD and wants to “maximize the potential benefits from the Hiawatha LRT line” through the Minnehaha-Hiawatha project, why would it also invest in more automobile capacity?

How about this: let’s grant that total person-travel in the corridor may increase 20% by 2030.  How can we most efficiently accommodate this additional travel while meeting the goals of both County and City to provide a livable community, shift modes, reduce emissions, increase health and provide flexibility for future changes in travel technologies and desires?


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4 Responses to Minnehaha Avenue Traffic Projections

  1. Alex Cecchini
    Alex Cecchini July 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Thank you.

  2. hokan July 17, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    “The new Minnehaha, with 10,000 AADT compared to Washington’s 25,000 AADT, will mostly have the same number of thru-lanes as the new Washington Avenue.”

    Minnehaha will have two through lanes and Washington will have perhaps seven. Or have I missed something?

    • Brendon Slotterback
      Brendon Slotterback July 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

      The Washington Avenue alternatives with bike facilities show a total of 5 thru lanes in most locations, with some locations having 4 thru lanes. Turn lanes are separate. I was incorrect about Minnehaha, you are right. I mistakenly counted parking lanes as through lanes.

  3. Jack Ray July 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm #

    I don’t believe Hennepin County is interacting with the public in good faith on this matter. The plan they offered with the cycletrack seems clearly to have been produced to show cycletrack in the worst light. We must insist they go back to the drawing board and offer more options. One option I want to see considered is having the County executing a turnback to the City, which could then work with the Park Board to create a 30 acre linear park between Minnehaha Park and Lake Street. If it was absolutely necessary there could be a permeable paver lane for electric mini-busses that could snake its way down the parkway.

    The value of properties along the avenue would skyrocket, the volume of customers for businesses increase manyfold, and the surrounding neighborhoods would benefit enormously. Let’s be forward looking and take advantage of a once in 50 year opportunity to alter our urban fabric for the better in a dramatic and sustainable way.

    The thinking we are getting out of Hennepin County is simply not good enough. I am not satisfied and I am not going to rest until we have a broader discussion about possibilities. I can’t make the meeting tonight, but I am sure there will be many more. This is not over.

    Jack