One highly trafficked intersection in Minneapolis was layered with interstate lanes in 1971. Although the freeway was buried below, ramps and merging lanes complicate the streets above. This historically influential neighborhood was transformed into a transitory space for the automotive world.
Minneapolis can regain this missing district with one driving modification: ‘turn, instead of merge.‘
Merging lanes suggest that drivers can speed off the interstate and onto city streets. This damages conditions on the roads and leaves little space for cyclists and pedestrians. Creating a tighter intersection between street and interstate will show drivers that the roads are separate and that conditions may be different. This allows for streets to be compatible with diverse modes of transportation.
The removal of merging lanes will also create valuable real estate. By defining intersections, we clear land that was previously lost to wide turns. In Minneapolis, this will allow for massive growth on highly valuable land. The city will regain hundreds of thousands of square feet, ideal for dense construction of residential, commercial and industrial space.
The ‘bottleneck effect’ occurs not when entering this area, but when exiting onto the surrounding streets. Added lanes here doesn’t serve anybody, but tricks drivers into thinking they can speed through the city. Create a consistent Hennepin from Uptown to Downtown, and traffic will flow smoothly between. With that simple street-grid, we can build durable structures that last for centuries.