September 4, 2012
County's Complete Street Approach to Park & Portland
ften, what seems like a Minneapolis “city street” is
actually a County Road such as Park Avenue or Portland Avenue; sometimes these
“streets” can also be classified as State Highways as is Central Avenue.
Different levels of government have a range of roles and responsibilities when
it comes to the construction, operation and maintenance of our city’s streets.
In general, the City of Minneapolis
through our Public Works
and the City
has a say in the design and layout of a roadway being newly or re-constructed
within the city limits. Usually, if a street is just being maintained – like a
repaving or “mill-and-overlay” – not a lot of redesigning is done.
his year, when Hennepin County announced its intention to
repave Park and Portland Avenues, it caught the attention of the many complete streets
advocated at the City and County level for us to take the time to reexamine the
streets’ layout and see if anything could be done to calm traffic and make
these streets more livable. Members of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee
and the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition
(an outside advocacy organization) led the efforts to reassess the streets’
design. Council Members Goodman, Glidden, Quincy and I, who represent these two
corridors from downtown to the city’s southern border, supported this effort,
as did Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin.
ity and County engineers worked together and proposed
that would reduce the number of car traffic lanes from three to
two for most of the way outside of downtown; shift bike lanes from the left
side to the right for better safety and visibility; provide a buffer area
between cars and bikes; improve connections to the Midtown Greenway; and lower
the speed limit from 35 to 30 miles per hour with retiming of the traffic
signals. Parking is pretty much retained throughout, though some parking
restrictions would be required at some intersections to accommodate turn lanes.
These changes would result in a calmer, more livable street with increased
safety for pedestrians who would now only have to cross two lanes of car
o present the design to the community, the City of
Minneapolis and Hennepin County hosted an evening public meeting on this past Thursday (August
30) that included a presentation and town-hall style discussion. The meeting
was held in the 6th Ward at the impressive Lutheran Social Service Center of Changing Lives
on Park Avenue. Nearly 200 people attended. The lead
Hennepin County engineer announced that these were the plans that they were
going ahead with unless some significant reason not to go in this direction
emerged from the public meeting. There was a spirited, respectful and lively
exchange of views.
at this meeting with my Council colleagues Elizabeth Glidden and John Quincy.
Commissioner McLaughlin started us off with comments. Some folks, including
me, contributed and followed the
discussion on twitter (#parkportland
The points of view ranged from those who favored the status quo and
wanted no lane reduction to those who felt we should do more to calm these
streets. Since this is only a mill-and-overlay there are not resources (that
means dollars) to do major redesign like narrowing the streets or adding
physical buffers (like planted boulevards) between pedestrians, bikes and cars.
Any changes have to happen pretty much within the existing curb-to-curb line.
Currently we do not have the time and money it would take to study returning
these streets to two-ways, though there is an interest on the City side, to
reassess this in the future as expressed in our Access Minneapolis
10-Year Transportation Plan
In general, people who live on Park or Portland were very
supportive of the changes and those who experience these streets solely as
drivers tended to be in opposition. A few concerns were expressed by several of
those present who support the plan. The design calls for the southbound bike
lane on Portland to be on the left side of the street until 35th
Street South, and then to shift to the right hand side, which is generally
considered the safer side for bike lanes. The engineers proposed this lane
configuration to avoid conflicts where there are higher volumes of cars turning
right, mostly north of 31st Street. People said they felt it was
better and safer for the bike lanes to be totally on one side or the other, eliminating
the need for the crossover. Another often expressed concern was the varying
two-and three-lane configurations. Several speakers said that they felt it
would be better to be consistent throughout and to accommodate turning cars
with turn lanes rather than expanding the number of lanes. In follow up
conversations with the elected officials, it is clear that there is an interest
in addressing some of these concerns through changes in the design.
I am very supportive of making Park and Portland more
complete streets. I believe the lane reduction and the speed reduction will
improve the livability along these streets without inconveniencing drivers. I
was very surprised at how low the traffic counts are on Park and Portland.
Several nearby streets carry as much or greater traffic with only one lane in
each direction. It’s hard to justify such wide and fast streets here. Also, as
a near neighbor to these streets and a 30-year resident of the Phillips area I
have long felt that these one-way pairs, like Park & Portland and 26th
& 28th Streets, over-emphasize moving cars rapidly through
our city and under-emphasize the fact that there are lots of good things happening
and good people living here.
Mondays with Robert
Council Member Lilligren has always believed that it's important for people like you and me to have access to government. Robert remains committed to that value today. For that reason, Council Member Lilligren makes himself available to community member visits on a walk-in and appointment basis.
You can meet with Robert on the first four Mondays of the month at each of the neighborhoods he represents. Call or email Alondra at 673-2206 or email@example.com to schedule an appointment. Walk-ins are welcome, however - you will be asked to wait if there is a scheduled appointment.
First Monday of the Month
Whittier Alliance, 10 E. 25th Street
9:30am - 11:30am
Second Monday of the Month
Phillips West, 2400 Park Ave.
Center for Changing Lives
9:30am - 11:30am
Third Monday of the Month
Stevens Square, 1925 Nicollet Ave.
9:30am - 11:30am
Fourth Monday of the Month
Ventura Village, 2323 11th Ave. S.
2nd Floor of Phillips Community Center
9:30am - 11:30am
After a year of operation at the time of routine license
renewal, the same stakeholders agreed to remove some of the operating
conditions. There was agreement among partners that this business was operating
in a way that made these conditions unnecessary. I think this is a great
example of cooperation between the neighborhood residents, City departments and
entrepreneurs coming together to support community level businesses. Good luck
to Tibet Kitchen in their second year!
City report details implications of voter ID measure
The Minneapolis City Clerk’s office
which is responsible for administering elections
that details the cost and other implications of a proposed
amendment to the Minnesota constitution that will be on the ballot this
November calls for, among other things, new voter identification requirements.
Under the proposed constitutional amendment, voters would be
required to provide a photo I.D. to prove identity and also a government-issued
I.D. to verify a correct home address. The Clerk’s office report examined the wording of the
proposed amendment and the impact similar changes have had in other parts of
the country where similar laws were implemented. It does not evaluate the
merits of the proposition. Instead, it offers information and analyses to help
people understand the potential impacts that this change would have.
According to the report, the Minnesota Management &
Budget Department estimates the startup costs to State and local government
agencies to be approximately $50 million. The ongoing operational costs to
local governments are estimated to be more than $10 million. Much of the cost
would involve the implementation of provisional balloting, which currently does
not exist here in Minnesota.
According to the proposed amendment, anyone who cannot
provide sufficient identification at their polling place could still cast a
provisional ballot. These provisional ballots would not be counted on Election
Day, and would only be counted if the voter provides sufficient identification
in the days following the election.
In addition, the amendment would require that the voter
identification system be implemented in time for the November 2013 election,
which would impact Minneapolis because of its local election. If passed, the
report concludes such a timeline is unworkable, particularly since the
amendment would require state lawmakers to adopt standards and provide
direction for implementing the amendment during the 2013 legislative session.