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Hennepin County is in the process of developing a preliminary design for improvements to the intersection of Franklin Avenue (CSAH 5) and East River Parkway in Minneapolis, MN. The operation of the intersection, and the confusing 5-legged geometry, has been a concern for many years. The combination of vehicular traffic, both local and commuter, proximity to the U of M, and the high numbers of pedestrians and bicycles passing through the intersection generates long delays and safety concerns. Growing traffic demands and changing traffic patterns will heighten these conditions. The planned Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line between Minneapolis and St. Paul, with the proposed Washington Avenue pedestrian and transit mall and corresponding changes to traffic patterns, has raised awareness of existing intersection deficiencies.
The study team includes staff from Hennepin County, Minneapolis Public Works, Minneapolis Parks and Recreation, and Study Consultant SEH.
The study team has developed a recommended design concept to improve the operation of the intersection in the short term. Provided that funding can be identified, implementation of a traffic management plan could be completed as early as 2010.
The traffic management alternative is intended to improve clarity and safety for all users while also reducing delay. This approach does not require complete street reconstruction and is intended to serve traffic demands for several years until traffic pattern changes are better understood. Bike lanes are included along the 27th Avenue and over the Franklin River Bridge. Improved clarity is possible through improved lane assignments, pavement markings, signing and traffic signal placement. Efficiencies are possible through re-assignment of lanes and modified traffic signal sequencing to better serve the heaviest vehicle movements. Pedestrian crosswalks are shortened where possible to decrease pedestrian exposure and crossing time. With these changes, a shorter signal cycle length can be achieved allowing pedestrians and vehicles to be served more frequently. Traffic safety, volumes and delay will be monitored and issues will be revisited as needed.