Bloomington’s Four-Lane Roads

The recent post about four-lane undivided roads made me think about how many there are in Bloomington. Although I absolutely love living there in general, I tend to agree with virtually everyone else that these roads are a bad idea for all modes. Bloomington had the misfortune to grow in the 1960s with the bad engineering practices of the time. A few of these roads really need to be expanded to add left turn lanes and median dividers, but for the most part they are actually overbuilt and could easily be road-dieted down. In some extreme cases they carry only around 1000 cars a day.

Recognizing that fact, the city of Bloomington enacted a collector street policy in 2005, where if a collector is going to be resurfaced for unrelated reasons, striping revisions will be considered. There were three cases (one of which was revisited when residents became more accepting of the concept) where the existing configuration was maintained, but in most cases the streets were re-striped to two and three lane roads. I’d consider this a success for both cars and non-motorized uses. Although I still won’t ride on shoulders of roads, and I still see plenty of people using the sidewalk, there are quite a few bicycle riders taking advantage of the new shoulders. (They’re not officially marked as bicycle lanes because Bloomington doesn’t want to get involved in insuring all the legal standards are technically met).

Of course there are limitations. The policy is for collector streets only; arterials, most of which are under county jurisdiction, are not eligible. In most cases the roads revert to four lanes at traffic signals, this is to not require expensive modifications to the signals, as well as probably the need for more extensive studies on operations on the signalized intersections. I think road diets for the county roads would also be beneficial. Except for Old Shakopee Road west of Portland and the northern halves of France and Normandale, all the county roads meet the <15,000 ADT threshold for considering this (and many are under 10,000).

Here is a map of all the four lane roads that have existed and not been up-sized. Most of the road diets have been due to the collector street program, although 86th was a different initiative to build an east-west bicycle friendly corridor (it was left as a wide suburban road at Lyndale due to the need of four lanes to maintain acceptable operations for motorized traffic. The recommendation was to widen 86th at Lyndale to add bicycle lanes, but recently the road was reconstructed  and this was not done). Old Cedar was  reduced  many years ago to take space for the new Mall of America ramps.

So here’s the map. Green: Four lane road converted to two or three. Red: Four lane road kept in the same configuration. Orange: Four lane road planned to be up-sized with medians or downsized to two or three lanes in the near future. Black: Four lane arterial outside the collector street program scope. Grey: Has not come up for resurfacing.

Green: 4-Lanes to 2/3 Lane, Red: Kept 4 Lanes. Black: Arterial, Grey: Not yet resurfaced, Orange: Under study

Green: 4-Lanes to 2/3 Lane, Red: Kept 4 Lanes. Black: Arterial, Grey: Not yet resurfaced, Orange: Under study

About Monte Castleman

Monte is a long time "roadgeek" who lives in Bloomington. He's interested in all aspects of roads and design, but particularly traffic signals, major bridges, and lighting. He works as an insurance adjuster, and likes to collect maps and traffic signals, travel, recreational bicycling, and visiting amusement parks.