The city of Minneapolis is getting set to reconstruct the busy, looping interchange where Hennepin and Lyndale avenues come together.
The city unveiled a proposal for the $9.1 million reconstruction project in the Skyline Room at the Walker Art Center Tuesday, giving curious neighbors a good vantage point of the tangled lanes of traffic below.
While planners proposed some ways to address car congestion and make the area friendlier to walkers and bikers, some residents were envisioning a more radical transformation of the area, which allows access to Interstate 94 and serves as a gateway between south and north Minneapolis.
Although the plans are in the preliminary stage, they'll include a new concrete surface for Hennepin and Lyndale avenues between Franklin Avenue and Dunwoody Boulevard, new traffic signals and improved pedestrian crossings.
Planners hope to make the area more bicycle and pedestrian friendly, and to improve the sometimes confusing flow of traffic. The exact details of the reconstruction will emerge as planners collect input from the public. But the project doesn't call for a radical transformation of the corridor, which sees about 50,000 cars a day.
“You've got bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and also the motoring public -- it's a balancing act with all of those.”Ole Mersinger, the city's project engineer
"I'm a little underwhelmed by the proposal that they have come up with," Engel said.
"It looks like they're almost rebuilding it as is, with some slight improvements," added Scott Engel, a member of the Minneapolis Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Engel said he expected to see multiple proposals when he came to the meeting. He'd like to see planners take an approach that's more friendly to bikers and pedestrians.
Karen Carney has lived in the city for 71 years. She and her husband Richard own an apartment building less than a block from what she describes as "this mess." She said that while the city's transportation approach overall may be shifting to serve city residents rather than funnelling suburban commuters in and out of the city, the Carneys don't see that shift reflected in the reconstruction plans.
"I think they're proposing to put in concrete," her hsuband said.
"New concrete though," she added.
Ole Mersinger, the city's project engineer, said the Hennepin-Lyndale overhaul is limited in scope by the federal funds available.
"When we start talking about [highway] ramp configurations, that gets into working with MnDOT and the interstate system, but that's not what we're looking at here," Mersinger said.
But the city has brought in consultants in an attempt to meet the needs of all the constituencies that use the roadways, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods.
"You've got bicyclists, pedestrians, transit users and also the motoring public -- it's a balancing act with all of those," Mersinger said. "It's a multimodal approach and we work to accommodate to the best of our abilities all users of the corridor."
The city is currently in the preliminary engineering portion of the plan. Officials plan to hold more public meetings this summer and to wrap up planning by next spring.
"We're looking at gathering input from the stakeholders that utilize the corridor and taking those thoughts and comments and incorporating those into the overall project design," Mersinger said.
Construction will likely start in the summer of the 2015 and possibly into 2016, Mersinger said. The schedule for road closures won't be decided until much later in the process.