City presents new Grand Avenue plans

Updated design calls for traffic-calming measures and less parking

Rendering of proposed changes to Grand Ave. and 35th Street
Rendering of proposed changes to Grand Ave. and 35th Street

An upcoming reconstruction of Grand Avenue between Lake and 48th streets will incorporate a mix of old and new, keeping about half the currently available parking while adding safety measures like extended curb cuts, according to a new design.

Minneapolis is planning to reconstruct the 2.2-mile stretch of road in 2021, a project that will include the installation of new pavement, new sidewalks and new gutters.

The two-way road, which has parking on both sides and is lined by businesses, houses and multi-family buildings, was built in the 1950s and has pavement that’s in bad condition, project planner Dan Edgerton said.

The city estimates that over 3,400 people live within a block of the road segment and that between 1,150 and 2,100 people drive it each day. Another 330 people walk its sidewalks, 80 bike it and 550 board buses on it daily, according to city estimates.

A preliminary estimate projects the reconstruction will cost $15.9 million. The city plans to pay for it with state aid, bonds and assessments on property owners who live on the road.

The new design incorporates a mixture of features the city included in three preliminary design concepts this past November. There would be boulevards at least 6 feet in width running down both sides of the street. The city would use the street’s full 60-foot right-of-way on much of the road north of 39th Street, but farther south, between 39th and 48th streets, it would stick to the 54 feet of right-of-way currently used on much of the road.

The design appears to have roughly half as much parking as currently exists on the street. Generally, both sides of the street would have at least some parking north of 40th Street, but parking would generally be limited to one side of the road south of 40th. Much of the parking near the 38th Street business district would be preserved on both sides.

Extended curb cuts, or bump-outs, would be located at 18 of the road segment’s 19 intersections, according to the design. Midblock pinch points and curves, or chicanes, would narrow the road at points on 12 of the 18 blocks.

The city hopes those features make pedestrian crossings easier and force drivers to slow down, Edgerton said. He added that the city will get extra boulevard space that could be used for plantings and other green infrastructure by narrowing the road at points.

He also said the city is talking with Metro Transit about consolidating bus stops on the street and that less parking would make it easier for plows to clear snow.

The plans do not call for a bike lane, as the city intends to eventually turn Pleasant Avenue, located a block to the east, into an on-street bike route, similar to Bryant Avenue.

However, the city is exploring a one-lane, one-way, one-block bikeway on Grand Avenue going north from 31st Street to Lake Street. Bikers would be directed to that trail from the Pleasant Avenue bikeway. (The city would prefer bicyclists have a signalized intersection for crossing the high-traffic Lake Street. There is only a stop sign at Lake & Pleasant, whereas Lake & Grand has a stoplight).

Local reaction

At a Jan. 27 open house at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, attendees appeared receptive to the plans.

Dick Rueter, who lives on the 4200 block of Grand Avenue, which would have half as much parking, said he’d like to see a stoplight at 42nd & Grand. (Edgerton called traffic lights a “complicated bag.”)

Greg Heaton-Hill, who lives on the 3600 block of Grand Avenue, said he thinks fewer people would make U-turns on his block because of a chicane proposed in front of his house.

Matt Perry, president of the Southwest Business Association, which covers Grand Avenue south of 36th Street, said reducing parking would be a hardship for both businesses and residents.

He also noted a 2017 city study of speeds along four blocks of the road segment. It found that most drivers on those four blocks were within 2 mph of the 30 mph speed limit.

“I’m confused by what the objective is when the street seems to be working fairly well as it is today,” he said.

Though the final design will likely end up looking something like the current iteration, the plans are not final, Edgerton said. He said the city plans on talking with businesses about parking and that the placement of specific design features could change.

“There’s still some refinement to be made,” he said.

Finalized designs are expected to be released by the spring. Construction will be in 2021.


Full block-by-block view of the proposed design:

Grand Lake to 39th

Grand 39th to 48th

 

A previous version of this story inaccurately stated how many intersections this road segment has and how many of those intersections would have bump-outs under the city plan.