Edina’s Many Roundabouts

While I used to work for the City of Edina, views expressed here are entirely my own.

Recently the City of Edina announced its plans for a ninth roundabout within city borders {1}. Already home to five roundabouts in the Southdale area (the others are along Valley View Road and the 169/494 interchange area in the southwest quadrant of the city), Edina has plans to add a roundabout to West 69th Street between France and York Avenues. West 69th Street is a 4-lane divided roadway, and carries approximately 11,000 vehicles per day. As development in the area continues, the coming roundabout will keep traffic flowing under controlled speeds, and will ease the entrance to Southdale Mall from West 69th Street.

West 69th Street is a minor arterial in the current Living Streets plan, which is one level above West 70th Street and Hazelton Road just to the south. This new roundabout will only be the second on a minor arterial in the city (169 interchange having the other(s)). West 69th Street, being a higher classification of roadway, also has more lanes than any other road with a roundabout in the city. However, the roundabout is not planned to be a multi-lane roundabout, but just a single circulating lane. These distinctions are significant as they show that Edina is willing to consider roundabouts in many locations, not limiting their application to lower volume roadways or intersections. The discussion on how the new roundabout will function is ongoing, and how it and West 69th Street fit within the Living Streets plan’s bike and pedestrian networks will be fun to watch, but the exciting thing for me is that Edina is showing how some very urban areas can apply roundabouts.

Edina has placed roundabouts in very busy locations, including the intersection of Tracy Avenue, the Nine-Mile-Creek Regional Trail and Valley Lane, or at West 70th Street and Valley View Road. There are also the intersections which see lighter traffic, but the geometry of a roundabout made a safer and better intersection than the roadways it replaced, like at Valley View Road and Braemar Boulevard.  The City of Edina even seems comfortable placing roundabouts in areas with significant foot traffic such as Hazelton Road and its proximity to the Promenade, or the Nine-Mile-Creek Regional Trail crossing mentioned before (also near Edina High School). As Edina continues to build new roundabouts, it is clear that they are working out the kinks and finding roundabouts useful in all manner of applications. This variety of applications, as well as roundabouts within the City of Edina being retrofitted intersections and not new construction, means that we can use Edina as an example of how to properly design urban-ish roundabouts.

Minneapolis, St. Paul and other fully developed cities should learn from Edina that roundabouts are still on the table in constrained right-of-way, that roundabouts can still be considered if they would be replacing current intersections, and they can be designed with bicyclists and pedestrians in mind. The City of Edina has found success in retrofitting intersections with roundabouts and — while they are only 1/3 as densely applied as in Carmel, Indiana — has been able to solve complex and challenging engineering issues using roundabouts. Roundabouts are not applicable in every scenario, but Edina proves that they can be used in already built areas, areas with bicycles, areas with pedestrians, with high vehicle volumes, and with constraints on the right-of-way, and knowing this, roundabouts can be considered as an intervention in more areas.

{1} – Using the city borders on Google and excluding the two neighborhood traffic circles shared with Minneapolis. This also means a couple of roundabouts that I remember as being “shared” with Eden Prairie are not included in this count.

{2} – At the end of this article, a consultant discusses that West 69th Street could eventually become a similar layout to West 70th Street, with a single lane in each direction and many accesses being roundabouts.

Joseph Totten

About Joseph Totten

Joe is a graduate of Civil Engineering-Transportation and Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota, and has a masters degree from Portland State University. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Joe has worked with nonprofits and public agencies in MSP and Portland.