In the September BAC Engineering Subcommittee meeting, members from Hennepin County and Minneapolis Public Works presented ideas for projects, including updates on Southwest LRT bicycle access and the Nicollet-Central Transit Alternatives Study. Additionally, Sean Murphy of Minneapolis Public Works also spoke of Park and Portland implementation plans.
Here are a notable updates around Minneapolis:
Southwest LRT: If you are unfamiliar, the Southwest Light Rail Transit project will create a light rail between Minneapolis and the southwest suburbs of Eden Prairie and Minnetonka. Recently, LRT staffers decided to contract two consulting firms to manage two areas of the project; one from Minneapolis through St. Louis Park and Hopkins, and one for everything beyond that. Currently, the project is wrapping up a 4-year EIS (environmental impact statement) that will include recommendations related to bicycle access and impacts. What you can do to help is attend the public hearings that will occur after the EIS is released in mid-October. There will be a 45-day comment period, and all comments will see a response.
Nicollet-Central Transit Alternatives Study: Spanning from just north of 40th Ave NE in Columbia Heights through Minneapolis to W 46th St., this study looks to enhance transit through different transit modes, predominately modern street car and bus rapid transit (BRT) applications, which would fit in the existing right-of-way. Currently, project staff are identifying problems and challenges, creating visions, and developing goals and objectives through public engagement, which starts this week. For more information, please visit www.minneapolismn.gov/nicollet-central.
Park and Portland: Like it or not, the changes are already underway with the Park and Portland restriping projects, and are being pushed along quickly. In response to feedback from public meetings, staff is planning to put bike lanes on the right side of the street on both roads. This will provide consistency in the location of the bike lanes, but will create issues with heavy right turns at specific intersections. Plans currently include green paint to highlight these areas of conflict. Decisions are still being made about other key elements of the striping plan, like between 28th and 31st where staff feels that capacity is needed for auto traffic, and striping could turn to a hybrid version of what you see on Hennepin downtown. Another issue that the BAC has discussed several times is maintaining safe access to the Midtown Greenway. With bike lanes on the right side of the street, cyclists will have to cross 2-3 lanes of traffic on Park Avenue. Staff are considering installing a signalized crossing but it will likely be at least a year before that can be installed. Staff expected to provide another update at this week’s full BAC meeting on Wednesday.