Reconstruction planned for Bryant

Minneapolis is planning to reconstruct Bryant Avenue south of Lake Street in 2022 with a project that will seek to increase green infrastructure and improve pedestrian and biking facilities.

The project will reconstruct 2.5 miles of the road between Lake Street and 50th Street, where the 60-year-old infrastructure is beginning to give way. City public works is in the early stages of the design phase and is currently collecting resident feedback through an online survey.

“It’s really important we hear from folks now on those basic elements and what they want to see in the design feature,” senior transportation planner Liz Heyman said at a virtual open house.

A city study found Bryant averages 3,000 daily users, with most trips using the street for a few blocks. As planners design the reconstruction, Heyman said, they will be influenced by the Vision Zero initiative to reduce serious injuries and deaths, the under- consideration Transportation Action Plan and the city’s declaration of a climate emergency.

“We know we need to design the streets we want to see for the activities we want to see,” she said.

Bryant is a well-used north-south bicycle route in Southwest, but today its designation as a bike boulevard offers no physical protection for riders. There’s parking on both sides of the street and two-way traffic through the center. But as part of the Transportation Action Plan’s “all ages and abilities” bike network, it will likely receive built protection.

“We’ll design a bikeway that allows people to feel comfortable riding on Bryant. We know the sharrows aren’t working,” city planner Trey Joiner said.

Exactly what kind of bike infrastructure will come is still to be determined, though Heyman noted public works favors behind- the-curb bike lanes in reconstruction projects.

Today, Bryant Avenue lacks boulevard space for trees and snow storage between the street and sidewalk, Heyman said. Adding new green infrastructure to Bryant, like trees, plants and engineered stormwater capture, is a high priority.

Public works believes there is “room to work with” in terms of parking availability on adjacent streets. There are 783 parking spaces on the road between Lake and 50th and 618 spaces on adjacent side streets between Colfax and Aldrich. A study found about half of available parking spots were in use during the Saturday evening peak, mostly near business nodes. Accommodating business delivery and customer access will also be a priority, Heyman said.

While some residents expressed interest in converting the street to one-way vehicle traffic, its designation as a municipal state- aid route would mean the city would need to convert either Colfax or Aldrich Avenue into a one-way in the opposite direction, Heyman said, adding complications to that plan.

Calming vehicle traffic will be a goal of the project. A city study found nearly a quarter of vehicles were exceeding the 30-mph speed limit (which, like other city streets, is being lowered to 20 mph). Speeding is particularly problematic between 44th and 47th streets, where the study found about 40% of vehicles were speeding.

One to-be-determined element is how much of its right-of-way the city will use. Bryant’s right-of-way is officially 60 feet wide but is effectively 55 feet in much of the corridor due to private property encroachments like retaining walls. Public works usually tries to avoid retaking those encroachments, but planners said “everything is on the table” during reconstruction.