Washington Avenue proposed layouts are posted

Layout 3A

Bill, David, and I have all written posts about the upcoming reconstruction of Washington Avenue, primarily to comment on questions we have with the traffic analysis.  In advance of the public open house meeting on Tuesday (at the Mill City Museum, you should attend), Hennepin County has posted four potential street layouts (thanks to @mplsbike for the tip).

Two include a cycletrack design, one includes on-street buffered bike lanes, and one includes no bike facilities with a “wide pedestrian zone”.  All designs include 6 lanes of traffic.  For reference, (at least for the cycling facilities) here is some NACTO guidance on one-way protected cycletrack design.

Update: the detailed birds-eye layouts of each concept can be found at the bottom of this page.

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17 Responses to Washington Avenue proposed layouts are posted

  1. Froggie May 11, 2013 at 7:34 am #

    From a traffic standpoint, the chokepoint is between 3rd and 4th, so it doesn’t surprise me that they’d narrow the ped zone there. They need the 3rd WB lane for right turns onto 3rd towards the river, and a 3rd EB lane for right turns onto 4th (for those headed towards 35W). I could even see a WB right turn lane at Hennepin. But the continuous 3rd lane WB all the way through seems a bit much. Their reason, ostensibly for 394 traffic, discounts that there is a direct, multilane access to 394 from 3rd St.

    • Alex Cecchini
      Alex Cecchini May 11, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      And all the things you mention continue to assume that Washington acts as an arterial being the primary carrier of car traffic from one end to another instead of part of a grid network of local streets that happens to have connections at each end to freeways.

  2. helsinki May 11, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Hmm, in the 110 ROW the sidewalk actually gets narrower . . .

    These would be great without the third ‘thru’ lane.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke May 11, 2013 at 10:56 am #

      that’s my take too. interesting that they only have the 3rd lane from hennepin to 5th. why bother?

      still, better than i was expecting. try and imagine what each of these scenarios would be like to walk down. how would they feel? imagine crossing the street in each of these drawings?

      • David Levinson
        David Levinson May 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

        Walking along the street seems fine. Crossing five-seven lanes without a median is terrible. (I am not clear how the parking lane operates at the intersections, does it become a right turn lane? (And there won’t be much of a median when there is a left turn lane). They should drop the third through lane and add a 10′ median. Matt’s idea of slip lanes also seems good.

        • Matt Steele
          Matt May 13, 2013 at 10:50 am #

          So my take is that it is too late to figure out a better solution for the section west of 5th, but there’s still potential for the section from 5th to 35W.
          And there’s really no point for the third lane westbound.

          Alex and I spent a few hours walking around Washington Ave on Saturday, and it was clear that either the sidewalk width needs to be greater OR it needs to be pushed back from fast-moving traffic. I think 3B could do this even with cycletracks, since it would create a large buffer between fast traffic and the sidewalk. It would also be compatible with a future slip lane scenario east of 5th when that time comes.

  3. Reuben Collins
    Reuben Collins May 11, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    This is going to be very interesting to see how this plays out. I have expressed concern in other forums that when Hennepin County says “cycle tracks”, they are really proposing an “off-street path” design, which is a mostly meaningless distinction at mid-block locations, but critical at intersections. I am concerned that even if cyclists successfully lobby for one of the “cycle track” options, they will be rather underwhelmed with how intersections are handled and may wish they’d lobbied for something else. But, I also guess you have to start somewhere…

    Another design worth considering that I didn’t see listed was for a protected bike lane adjacent to the curb with a floating parking lane (only in areas with parking, of course…).

    • Ethan Fawley May 12, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

      The County brought in national cycletrack experts to help them learn how to handle things like intersections. They specifically discussed Washington (and Minnehaha). The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition will not allow them to do a poor job of intersections. We will stop nothing short of a well-designed cycletrack and we have been clear about that throughout.

      • Reuben Collins
        Reuben Collins May 13, 2013 at 9:23 am #

        OK. I hope you are right. I realize that the County has not released any detailed designs yet, so much is still negotiable. I am sure that MBC, the City, and Hennepin County have had many discussions about design that I am not aware of. All I know is what has been posted on the website. Based on the layouts they have released, this is more-or-less my understanding of what is proposed:

        • Reuben Collins
          Reuben Collins May 13, 2013 at 9:53 am #

          upps, just realized that photo is of a two-way cycle track, rather than the one-way cycle track that is proposed. Still, a pretty good representation of my understanding.

        • Sean Hayford Oleary
          Sean Hayford Oleary May 13, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

          I agree, Reuben, that what’s been posting doesn’t look they’ve given much consideration to intersection design. Hopefully more details will be shown later. At a minimum, I hope for tight turning radiuses, no turn on red off of Washington Ave, and an advanced pedestrian and bike interval on the signals.

          I don’t really like the cycle track adjacent to sidewalk design. It reminds me of a similar design I’ve seen in Berlin. Unfortunately, pedestrians often wandered into the bike zone. Using either a second curb — or placing the boulevard trees between sidewalk and cycle track — would be more effective.

  4. Matt Steele
    Matt May 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    There’s no need for a third through lane westbound between 5th Ave and Hennepin, as proposed. Has anyone in Hennepin County seen the excess capacity on 3rd St, 300 feet to the south, during 23 hours of the day?

  5. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 13, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I’m gonna guess it might be more like this cycletrack in NY: http://on.fb.me/18FXhjH

  6. ben May 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Seems to me that LAYOUT 3A – CYCLE TRACK ADJACENT TO ROAD is the no-brainer. Having a cycle track farther away from traffic will make the intersections more difficult and would also conflict with pedestrians more. This would be an excellent route but I think a key to its success regardless will be to ensure traffic calming.

  7. ben May 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Just seeing this again I agree, the median could be bigger by bringing down to two through lanes on both sides, using mirror image left turn lanes. You could signalize and ban left turns on a few cross streets. The other option is to ban the left turns altogether and make people do a series of right turns.

  8. Justin Foell
    Justin Foell May 16, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    I’m late to chime in, and my opinion doesn’t really count since I don’t live in the county but…

    It seems like options 3A & 3B are clearly the best since they’re the only ones with 5 travel lanes instead of 6. Further, I might suggest adding street trees to the parking lane. It could be as simple as the one seen here:


    By having the trees closer to the travel lanes, it may psychologically cause drivers to slow.

  9. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke May 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Everyone (including Justin):

    Feel free to comment on the plan with your “vote” here: http://surveymonkey.com/s/WashingtonAveDesignConcept

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