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, Saint 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 2 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.

10 thoughts on “Edina’s Many Roundabouts

  1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

    Nice post — wish you’d included some pictures of these facilities! Edina’s use of roundabouts largely for business access or intersections of fairly minor roadways with much busier ones (such as Valley View & 70th) seems unique from the way they’re being used elsewhere.

    I think they’re actually great for busier business driveways — but it would be helpful if they could be used on some more high-volume street locations in the Southdale District as well. I know there was a conceptual idea for Xerxes & 66th that was eliminated in favor of some minor changes to existing signal. I wonder if there might eventually be roundabout consideration for other locations going down Xerxes/York — such as 69th, 70th, and 76th. As it stands, the current signals are a whole lot of nobody going anywhere, and one person going 45 in a 35 zone. Crossing distances are very long for pedestrians, and there is a lot of unnecessary delay for motorists and pedestrians alike.

    1. Pat Finley

      I agree with the Xerxea comment. Too many lights and nobody going anywhere

      I don’t understand the concept on 69th street. I drive it often and the traffic flows just fine. Why reduce two lanes to one at the propose roundabout. That will surely backup traffic. What’s wrong with a two lane roundabout. I know its hard to navigate but we can get used to it.

      1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

        For what it’s worth — almost every roundabout complaint I hear in Richfield relates to the two-lane design at both our current roundabouts. People changing lanes within the roundabout, people in the outer lane not yielding to the inner lane when they enter, people using the wrong lane for the wrong purpose, etc. It also makes pedestrian crossing harder, since you have to negotiate with two cars in each direction rather than one car.

        I assume the reason for the single-lane on 69th is that 69th, long-term, will go to one lane each way, and current traffic just doesn’t require the throughput of 2 lanes. I am sure if they had gone forward with one at Xerxes/66th, it would have been 2-lane.

        1. Lou Miranda

          Yes, 69th will eventually be one lane in each direction. So going down this path makes sense.

          This new roundabout is certainly an improvement over earlier ones, say at Hazelton, where the the road narrows & the bike lane just unceremoniously ends as you enter the roundabout, and you are left to your own devices.

          And I agree about the difficulty of 2-land roundabouts. I drive them a lot in Florida, and nobody really knows how to use them. The best ones I’ve seen locally are at Hwy 7 & Louisiana, where the right lane is actually a through-lane only, which seems not to confuse drivers.

  2. Mike

    Roundabouts are at their best controlling a somewhat clean 4 way – like they do in Edina say along the Galleria. If you drive the series of them by 169 and 494, I think there are three of them for most trips, you get a sense like you’re going through a slalom as you exit one only to almost immediately enter another. That can also be confusing. It feels like they jumped the shark in that part of town overdoing them in such close proximity.

    1. Lou Miranda

      Yes! Serial roundabouts that are not linear are very confusing. Once driving the ones at 169 & 494, I saw a guy actually stop his car, get out, and look around to try to figure out where he was.

      That was early days, and maybe the signage has improved. But luckily I don’t get over there very often, so I haven’t driven it lately.

  3. Sean O'Brien

    I wish Minneapolis would 5-way roundabout the Cub parking lot at 60th and Nicollet and get rid of the two stoplights on 60th.

    1) Nicollet S
    2) Richfield Lutheran
    3) Nicollet N
    4) Cub
    5) E 60th

    I haven’t seen a 5 way in our area but they have them in Europe. I figure if Cub sacrificed the land on the SW corner of their property they could get it back by eliminating the “driveway” coming north from the 2nd stoplight.


    1. Sean Hayford OlearySean Hayford Oleary

      I dislike this access situation, too, but I think the existing light is overkill and would probably be fine with simply a stop-controlled access to 60th. It’s downright bizarre that the SB 35W intersection gets by with just a two-way stop, but this grocery store parking lot somehow justifies a signal.

      A 5-way roundabout would require a lot of space to get enough spacing for that diagonal 5th leg. Plus, it would lead to some weird circulation in the parking lot. (Basically the opposite problem of the Hub lot, which has cardinal-direction accesses and a diagonal layout — this would have a normal gridded layout with a major diagonal access.)

      If you really wanted to change this, I would suggest installing a short median and left-turn lane, with a 3/4 access from 60th to Cub. So you’d make a left turn directly into the Cub lot from 60th, but to exit the Cub lot to EB 60th, you would turn right and then do a quick U-turn at a new roundabout.

  4. Lou Miranda

    Edina is also thinking about a roundabout (with integrated multiuse path) at Blake & Interlachen. A study was done a year or so ago with UofM student engineers.

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