County's first protected bike lane to open in 2016!
Washington Avenue downtown, the very first project priority of the Bikeways for Everyone campaign, was approved with a protected bike lanes by Hennepin County Board on December 17, 2013! The plan also adds greening and greatly improves the walking environment.
The vote was the culmination of months of work by staff to craft a plan for Washington Avenue that enhances the surrounding neighborhoods while improving safety and access for everyone. Detailed designs for the project will be finalized and construction of Washington Avenue from Hennepin Avenue to 5th Street South will begin in 2015. The plan also includes future improvements from 5th Street South to the Interstate 35W Bridge.
To create the plan, Hennepin County commissioned a 73-page traffic analysis of the corridor and engaged more than 1,800 people in public meetings and through an online survey. The traffic analysis showed that traffic can be roughly the same in the corridor even with one fewer lane because of recently improved traffic light timing and a new on-ramp to 35W North from 4th Street that opened last year. The public engagement process showed that people value making Washington Avenue greener and better for walking and biking.
The Minneapolis Downtown Council’s 2025 Plan mentions building Washington Avenue to Seven Corners as a “treelined corridor that emphasizes transit, pedestrian and bicycle traffic” as a way to forge greater connections between downtown and the University of Minnesota. This Washington Avenue design also contributes to 2025 Plan goals to double the residential population downtown from 35,000 residents to 70,000 residents by 2025, and to improve access to the Mississippi River.
Based on the traffic analysis and public input, Hennepin County staff developed a design that will greatly enhance the street and the entire downtown. The design is most similar to Option 3A shown here and includes:
• Greatly improved green and pedestrian area that is 23 to 35 percent wider than today (depending on location).
• Much easier connections across the street from downtown to the river with crossing distances that are 22 to 34 percent narrower than today (depending on location).
• New protected bike lanes to connect the heart of downtown directly with the University of Minnesota. Washington Avenue carries between 500 and 900 bicyclists per day with 27 to 54 percent riding on the sidewalk, according to recent City counts.
• Little or no impact on congestion because of traffic light timing improvements and a new access ramp to 35W north.
For more details on the Washington Avenue project, visit:http://www.hennepin.us/residents/transportation/washington-ave-mpls