If you’ve lived in Southwest for a while, you probably think traffic is getting worse.
You’re right — most of the time.
To get a sense of history, we compared city traffic data from 2003 with 1973 (literally, a generation ago) and 1988 (the mid-way point). Overall:
– Since 1988, traffic is up at two of every three Southwest monitoring points, which are usually on arterial and busier neighborhood streets. At one of five monitoring points, traffic is up by 25 percent or more.
– Traffic since 1973 is also up at two of every three comparable points. At one of three, traffic is up by 25 percent or more.
– Although it doesn’t seem possible, 2003 traffic is down at one of every three monitoring points from both 1973 and 1988.
The biggest gainers and losers are marked on the map at left.
Who bears the brunt
Where are the streets getting crazier? The big gainers since 1988 include:
– Eat Street up — 150 percent on the now-fashionable restaurant row.
– Franklin Avenue at the tip of the Wedge (Hennepin to Lyndale), up 60 percent.
– In Linden Hills: Xerxes Avenue between 39th and 44th is up about 50 percent and France Avenue at 50th is up about 25 percent.
– 35W access streets: 46th Street and 54th/Diamond Lake are up about 20 percent.
Generally speaking, major arterials — Nicollet Avenue south of K-Mart, Penn Avenue south of 50th, Hennepin Avenue north of Uptown and Lyndale Avenue are up 10-20 percent.
Who’s seeing less
Residents of the following streets don’t lose their complaining rights, but here’s where traffic has mellowed since 1988:
– The one-way pair of Blaisdell and 1st avenues. Traffic has fallen 20 percent or more on 1st, perhaps due to the Whittier neighborhood’s two-way experiment north of 28th Street. Blaisdell traffic is down 10 percent between Franklin and Lake.
– Another one-way duo, 26th and 28th streets, is down about 15 percent each way.
– 50th Street is down about 25 percent east of Lyndale through Tangletown. This part of 50th is not in the restriping project happening to the west.
– France Avenue around 40th Street is down 20 percent.
– Traffic tripled since 1988 on Lagoon Avenue between Dupont and Hennepin. That section became a one-way pair with Lake Street to reduce congestion on Lake. Traffic on Hennepin between the two one-ways is up 100 percent.
– Penn Avenue through Bryn Mawr. Since Highway 12 became I-394, traffic at this access street — also Bryn Mawr’s business node — is up 60-80 percent.
Drivin’ at the lakes
Lake Calhoun is busier, up about 50 percent on the south and west shores, and 20 percent on the east-side path.
Lake Harriet and Lake of the Isles aren’t; traffic has dipped at each lake by about 15 percent since ’88.
Two lake-area roads have seen a surge: Penn between Lake Harriet and West 50th (up 115 percent) and Dean Parkway between Lake Street and Lake of the Isles (up 45 percent).
The freeway factor
Since ’88, three 35W access streets have seen big jumps feeding into the freeway.
Between Nicollet & I-35W, traffic is up 15 percent at 35th Street, 17 percent at 40th Street and 25 percent at Diamond Lake Road.
Southwest-area freeway traffic has grown at roughly the same rate as street traffic since 1988: about 10 percent. Since 1973, though, freeway traffic has grown 50 percent, far faster than on Southwest streets.
Only four Southwest streets saw bigger increases than the Crosstown at Xerxes, which is up 82 percent compared to 30 years ago. I-35W at 46th is up 50 percent, more than all but 11 Southwest streets.