I-35W and Lake Street Intersection – November, 2011

What’s that you say? You’re so bored that you want to watch people (mostly in cars) navigating the I35W and Lake Street intersection? Well go no further, grab a beverage and a seat in front of your screen. While this 10 minute video produced by Short Elliot Hendrickson, Inc. will not be winning any Oscars for best drama or best production value, I can assure you that it’s more interesting than watching paint dry.

The video was found on the I-35W Transit/Access project website. This is the project formerly known as the 35W Lake Street Access project which was only about expanding the freeway, adding lanes to Lake Street, and adding flyover ramps to bring more cars between the freeway, Lake, and 28th streets. Thankfully, the Minneapolis City Council rejected that plan and worked to recenter the project around the Lake Street BRT station as Bill Lindeke wrote about a couple of years ago: Three Lessons from Minneapolis’ Pyrrhic Victory on Lake Street.

What Bill doesn’t address much in his post is that a closely related cousin to this project is Hennepin County’s plans to rebuild Lake Street from Blaisdell Ave. to 5th Ave. in order to facilitate the movement of more cars at the freeway intersection. That’s what this video is all about–showing what the County perceives to be unacceptable conditions for motorists. The video does show lots of cars queueing up in all directions. It also includes a few mentions of other intersection users–buses and a person on a bicycle–although it addresses these users as a part of the problem and a further inconvenience to motorists. Here’s some quotes I found interesting:

  • “Bus blockage” (mentioned two times)
  • “bike weaves through traffic” (Note that there are no bicycle provisions planned as part of the Lake Street rebuild.)
  • “car waits through a green light, but is not served.” (That’s an LOS of zero, I think.)

So, what do you think?


Matty Lang

About Matty Lang

Matty Lang has been interested in land use, transportation, and cities since he fell in love with Paris, France while studying there in 1998-1999. He is a filmmaker living in Minneapolis. He loves film, bicycling, and basketball. Follow him: Vimeo | @MattyLangMSP | Facebook

12 thoughts on “I-35W and Lake Street Intersection – November, 2011

  1. Monte

    Looks like pedestrians crossing Lake St. would have to walk a whole 4 feet farther to make a huge operational improvement for cars. Maybe people in the area really are vehemently anti-car to that degree, I don’t know. My impression is that one faction wants to make it easier for cars to access so they’d patronize local business, hence the new ramps, and one faction doesn’t want a single additional car in the area. Personally I try to avoid the area. Even though it’s the shortest way from my house to Lake Calhoun I normally go around the other direction on MN 100 and County 25.

      1. Scott ShafferScott Shaffer

        Good find! Oh, that poor pedestrian at 3:48. He gets terrorized out of lawfully crossing the street by an onslaught of unyielding drivers. And the editor doesn’t even give him a caption.

    1. Rosa

      It would be fine to walk farther if the walking were protected from turning cars, and if the light were long enough for a slow person (say a woman walking with toddlers, or an elderly or mobility-disabled person) could get across safely.

      I also avoid the area, as a pedestrian and a cyclist. But it’s not good for the businesses around there or the people who live right there.

  2. Bill LindekeBill Lindeke

    This is a great video. Believe it.

    I’d love it if streets.mn could produce or host or solicit more of these kinds of looks at the actual conditions of different streets. They really illustrate how design makes a difference, and the choices that we make as a society to prioritize different activities (cars v. buses v. people trying to walk around, etc.).

    1. Matty LangMatty Lang Post author

      I’m planning on launching a Youtube show that would include some stuff like this (but, more entertaining hopefully). I’d be happy to share the shows on streets.mn if the board would like that.

      1. Rosa

        I’ve been wondering about this – if I just sit and videotape some problem corners in my neighborhood, is that even legal? Since I’m not a government or nonprofit? I don’t want to invade people’s privacy or get neighbors in trouble with the law, but people just don’t believe me when I say the vast majority of drivers don’t stop before crosswalks & roll through most stop signs. I’d love to make them see it.

        1. Matty LangMatty Lang Post author

          Hi Rosa,

          I’m not a lawyer so don’t take what I write here as legal advice, etcetera, etcetera. As long as you are standing/sitting on public property you can shoot video or take pictures legally. The courts have ruled (paraphrasing here) that if something or someone can be seen from a public place or is in a public place they/it have to reasonable expectation of privacy.

          Depending on your location you may run into some people that get paranoid and try to stop you or alert some authority so be aware of that. My advice is to be friendly and not shy to people who may be walking around you. You will probably get a lot of people asking what you’re doing. I always say, I’m just shooting a documentary about how the street works and people usually ask me where they’ll be able to see it before continuing on their way.

          1. Rosa

            I just want to film straight across from sidewalk to sidewalk, so people see that cars around here typically stop *after* they would have already run over a small child. Because as a pedestrian who walks with kids, it’s pretty obvious to me that’s true, and drivers NEVER believe me.

  3. Nathaniel

    Thank you for posting this video. I would love to see more of them. If you can – and it’s not too much trouble – attempt to save these videos. If they catch on, they might remove videos or change the licensing so we can’t use them. Keep up the good work.

  4. Stuart

    I’m guessing that this is too far along for any meaningful changes to the design now, but did they consider an elongated or double traffic circle?

    It seems to me that this would work well for the two two-way and four one-way connections to this double intersection (Lake, Stevens and 2nd). They could still include bump outs for buses at the transit station and you would have a large pedestrian island for better crossing. Each entrance/exit could be two lanes. Traffic circles should move continuously so the turn queues shouldn’t back up like in the video and a lot of ROW for dedicated turn lanes would be eliminated making all pedestrian crossings shorter. And while we’re at it, add a separate bike lane around the outer edge.

    If pedestrian crossings are a concern, you can put a pedestrian scramble crossing light cycle on the intersection.

    Or is the traffic load just too high for Minnesotans to consider this?

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