Transportation notebook

A facelift for Uptown

Residents of East Isles, Lowry Hill East, East Calhoun and CARAG are another step closer to a revitalized community. After 18 months of meetings and analysis, planning consultant the Cunningham Group has prepared a draft of the Uptown Small Area Plan, which addresses parking, building heights, sidewalks and green space, among other issues.

Neighbors have expressed interest in increasing jobs, transit, arts, parking and density, but they don’t want the area to become packed with skyscrapers and pollution.

“Uptown will not be Downtown,” said Council Member Ralph Remington, who sits on the project’s steering committee, at a Sept. 19 presentation about the plan.

To come up with options for Uptown, the consultants used several urban communities around the country as inspiration, such as the Pearl District in Portland, Ore. and downtown Santa Monica, Calif.

One possibility would involve slimming Lake Street by dropping the third lane and using the extra space to widen the sidewalks, making it more comfortable for pedestrians and providing room for café seating and planters.

Another idea would turn Lake Street and Lagoon Avenue into two-way roads, reducing driver confusion and giving better access to different areas.

The draft also supports public transportation, but adding options like light rail or streetcars might not be financially viable unless ridership increases.

To view the plan, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/planning/uptown-plan.asp. It will be open for public comment until mid-November, after which it will head to the Planning Commission for review. Should the plan be approved, it will update the Minneapolis Plan regarding land use and come to fruition over 15 or 20 years.

Ten-year Transportation Action Plan and streetcar feasibility public meetings

The city is hosting several public meetings to discuss its 10-Year Transportation Action Plan and Streetcar Feasibility Study. Meetings in Southwest will occur on Oct. 23 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Recreation Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S. and on Oct. 25 from 6:30–8:30 p.m. at Bryant Square Recreation Center, 3101 Bryant Ave. S.

The 10-year transportation plan identifies steps that the city, Metro Transit, Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County, and Minnesota Department of Transportation need to take to improve the current system and prepare it for growth.

The Streetcar Feasibility Study examines the possibility of creating several streetcar routes in Minneapolis, including segments along Lake Street, Hennepin Avenue and Nicollet Avenue.

Lyndale Avenue construction

Lyndale Avenue is set to undergo a lot of changes in the coming months through a series of small-area plans that are part of the overall Minneapolis Plan.

This spring, work will begin on reconstructing Lyndale Avenue from 31st Street to Minnehaha Parkway. Hennepin County, which owns that portion of the road, created a redesign plan that would include one lane in each direction, off-street parking, medians from 31st to 38th Streets and left turn lanes throughout. In addition, should the plan be approved, bus stops at 47th and 48th Streets and a traffic signal at 32nd Street would be removed.

Later this month, City Council members will vote on the layout and, if approved, begin the process of finding a contractor. Construction would finish in 2009.

After reconstructing 31st Street to Minnehaha Parkway, work will begin on the corridor from Minnehaha Parkway to Crosstown. One of the biggest changes in this project would create a “T” intersection at Hwy. 121 and 58th Street, forcing drivers coming off the highway to turn right if they want to reach Lyndale Avenue.

In the long term, the city hopes to add blocks of mixed use, multi-family and commercial development along the corridor. Council members recently approved a plan to rezone many of the parcels, setting a framework for what they would like to see happen based on the Minneapolis Plan. Roadwork will begin in the spring of 2009 pending the completion of other Lyndale projects and City Council’s approval of the plan.

Once the Crosstown reconstruction project comes to a close, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will reconstruct the access ramps for Lyndale Avenue and Hwy. 121. Around this time, the city may begin reconstruction on Lyndale Avenue from Franklin Avenue to 31st Street.

Hennepin County Commissioner Gail Dorfman said the goal of the project is to slow down traffic and discourage commuters from using Lyndale instead of the freeway.

West 54th Street reconstruction

A portion of West 54th Street — from Upton Avenue to Penn Avenue — is getting reconstructed in 2008. The new design will include two bicycle and car lanes for vehicles heading in both directions, parking on the south side of the street and sidewalks.

Contact Mary O’Regan at moregan@mnpubs.com or 436-5088.