You’ve probably been thinking, as I have, that we need a bit more traffic chaos in the city, a few more barriers to our daily commute.
Well, we’re in luck.
Next Monday, MnDOT will close Franklin Avenue, where it crosses over I-35W near the Electric Fetus record store, to rebuild the bridge. That’s the good news. Bridges are good.
Just last week, the city started striping 26th and 28th streets to extend the protected bike lanes from Portland Avenue to Hennepin Avenue. Nice. Bikes are good, too.
You may recall that the bike lanes became an issue last spring when Uptown business owners complained that they didn’t get much, if any, notice that the lanes would eliminate hundreds of parking spaces for their customers.
Here’s the new twist: MnDOT’s detour of nearly 15,000 cars that use Franklin Avenue each day will go to two south Minneapolis streets, more than doubling the current traffic on those streets. Try to guess which ones.
(Pause for effect, cue Jeopardy music.)
I hope you bet all your money on the final answer because you are correct — 15,000 cars will be diverted to 26th Street going west and 28th Street going east at the same time long stretches of those streets will be restricted to one lane of traffic.
Casper Hill, spokesman for the city, said the detour sections of those east-west streets will remain two-lane while the bridge is being repaired.
“The detour route will take Franklin traffic on these streets between Nicollet Avenue and Portland Avenue, and there will be two lanes of motor vehicle traffic (not one) on these sections. The only sections of 26th Street and 28th Street that will be down to one travel lane are outside of the detour route segments,” Hill wrote in an e-mail. “Given the importance of this 4.5-mile corridor bikeway project and the fact that the bridge detour overlaps with only a short portion of the bikeway, the City decided to move forward with the protected bikeway installation this construction season. Traffic signals will be adjusted to give longer green light times to the detour route traffic.”
I hope that I am wrong, but I predict traffic will flow as smoothly as trying to push hamburger through a straw. I’m not alone.
“I saw that about the closing of the Franklin Avenue bridge and recommending 26th and 28th streets as alternatives, before they started painting the bike lanes on 26th and 28th,” said Larry Ludeman, a board member of the Lyn-Lake Business Association and the Lyn-Lake Parking Committee. “For a moment I thought maybe common sense might prevail, and they would delay the installation of the bike lanes, but nooo. It is always ideology before common sense with these idiots running down our fine city.”
You might say Ludeman is opinionated.
“What our city leaders are doing to our street transportation system is ‘prescribed congestion’ for the sake of their grand, arrogant, behavior modification program,” Ludeman added. “What they don’t seem to care about is the current cost to citizens’ time, fuel, income, and environment with additional emissions.”
Rand Retterath lives near Abbott Northwestern Hospital and has been assessing the impact of the bike lanes on traffic around the hospital and adjacent Children’s Hospital. Hint: not good. He’s already witnessed routine six-block traffic jams and forwarded e-mails to me from hospital workers concerned about ambulances being caught up in the jams. He calls the new plan “insane” and “Orwellian.”
“I am not opposed to bike lanes, just their rampant and uncontrolled expansion without benefit of reasonable analysis that considers all stakeholders,” Retterath said. “Businesses, residents, cyclists, commuters and the rest all need to be considered, not just bike bullies!
“Bike lanes when properly placed can be a real asset,” he added. “However, major commuter routes and business districts do not fit my opinion of well placed, especially when no one is ever considered. This is a play for public relations — we are in competition with Portland for the most miles of bike lane so we can get a mention in National Geographic.”
Hill said that “the City and MnDOT continue to work together on the Franklin Bridge replacement, detour routes and the protected bikeway installations. The City will continue to monitor traffic flows during construction and will make adjustments when needed.”
In other words, enjoy your commute, everyone.
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