Transportation roundup

Lyndale Avenue reconstruction

A plan is in the works to reconstruct Lyndale Avenue South from 31st Street West to Minnehaha Parkway. The City Council approved the $13.3 million project earlier this month and will hold a public hearing March 25 during its Transportation & Public Works Committee meeting.

Changes in the 2.6-mile stretch are divided into four chunks:

• 31st Street to 38th Street will have widened sidewalks, one lane on each side of the road for parking, one lane for driving in each direction, and a 10-foot median featuring grass and trees. Intersections located between 32nd and 38th streets will have additional inside lanes for left turns.

• From 38th Street to Minnehaha Parkway, Lyndale Avenue will have even wider sidewalks and one lane for parking and one lane for driving in each direction.

• Intersections occurring within 39th Street and 49th Street will narrow to one lane of traffic in each direction with no parking and one inside lane for left turns.

• A $965,000 street lighting project has been tacked onto the reconstruction effort. The county will pay half the cost, and residents along the corridor have agreed to have their properties assessed for 25 cents per applicable square foot.

The majority of funding for the Lyndale Avenue South reconstruction project will come from Hennepin County, which owns the road; the city will provide $4.8 million. Construction is expected to begin in April and continue until November 2009.

Transit ridership highest since 1982

Metro Transit recently released a report stating that annual ridership is at its highest point since 1982. Seventy-seven million people rode the bus or took the train last year, which translates to 146 commuters each minute. The number is 4.7 percent higher than 2006 and 10.4 percent higher than the previous year.

The agency partially credits fare deals for the ridership increase, such as Metropass, a program that employers can provide for their workers, and U-Pass, a plan for students at the University of Minnesota. Usage of the passes increased 12.2 and 9.1, respectively. Twenty-six percent of riders used Go-To passes, plastic cards that hold rechargeable fare.

General Manager Brian Lamb said in the report that bus timeliness increased 1 percent over last year, meaning vehicles are punctual 89 percent of the time. Trains, on the other hand, are prompt 97 rides out of 100.

“Ridership surged upward when gas prices increased,” Lamb said. “Those new customers stayed with us when prices dropped.”

In March, 19 new hybrid electric buses that are currently on the road using a 10 percent soy biodiesel blend will up the mix to 20 percent.