3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

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mister.shoes
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3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby mister.shoes » January 2nd, 2013, 12:06 pm

This is kind of a Transportation/Downtown MPLS crossover, but I want to focus more on the development side of the discussion. The gist of it is this: as I read about more and more and more and more developments going on in the North Loop, I can't help but hate the 3rd/4th Street viaducts even more than I already do. While the 394 trench is bad enough at cutting off NL from DT, the simple fact that 3rd and 4th literally jump over the NL compounds the relatively easily solved problem of said trench. Has there ever been a serious discussion within the city/county/state (I'm not sure who gets final say on those roads) about tearing down the viaduct and reconnecting the grid?

Imagine 3rd/4th jumping the trench as parallel streets that then land on their respective companions on the NW side. We can leave them as one-ways and work with the existing interchange with 94, but I have an even better idea I might "Google map" when I feel ambitious. Suddenly, the NL is fully connected to DT in a way that doesn't require going "around the corner" to get past 394. Transit users landing at the Interchange won't feel walled in by the viaduct, and the new plaza on the NW side of Target Field will truly be inviting to the whole neighborhood.

(As an aside, assume for the sake of argument that the east end of DT gets redone as suggested in the Wash Ave thread. Couple that with this and Wash/3rd/4th are a nearly uninterrupted grid from the river to the extreme west end of DT. How cool would that be?)

I understand why 3rd/4th were done how they were done, but the idea of skipping over the whole of the NL so commuters can get in/out of DT more quickly is no longer a good one (if it ever was). DT is growing in beautiful ways right now. Target Field was a huge step toward erasing the 394 barrier, but there needs to be a little more done to truly integrate both sides of the trench. Thoughts?
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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby min-chi-cbus » January 2nd, 2013, 1:22 pm

Somebody posted a Master Plan of the area recently (possibly by lordmoke and in the Transit section....but cannot remember where that was posted or when, but probably 1-2 weeks ago) and I remember seeing a strip of high-density zoning along what appeared to be that viaduct. Since that's kind of an eyesore and limits/eliminates access to/from North Loop, I'm wondering if part of the Master Plan is to reconstruct it and/or eliminate it with a promenade or something (in that scenario there would have to be a tunnel or something to replace it underneath).

*Edit:
This was posted by MNdible in The Interchange thread in the Transit section....page 11.

http://www.minneapolismn.gov/cped/plann ... north_loop

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby mister.shoes » January 2nd, 2013, 2:20 pm

Oh, duh. Now that you link to it, I remember seeing that plan a while ago when I was digging up info on the SW and Bottineau lines. I never bothered to read too deeply because it wasn't exactly what I was seeking, but I'm sure it would have been smart to do so. Because then I would have found this section and not started this thread...
North Loop Small Area Plan - Adopted April 16, 2010 - Page 68 wrote:The original plan recommended dismantling of the freeway viaduct. After further analysis, this plan reverses the original recommendation due to:
  • The long life-span of the existing infrastructure;
  • Freeway traffic converting to local road use;
  • Grade issues at both the railroad trench and the I-94 entrance ramp that would allow for only two to four blocks of local road;
  • Ramping up to I-94 would eliminate the possibility of a new connection of 8th Avenue North (as described earlier in the chapter).
The freeway viaduct should stay and new opportunities to re-establish the street grid underneath should be explored. As with Warehouse West, street-level retail is encouraged along 5th Avenue North and new development should have a prominent presence on 10th Avenue North with the inclusion of pedestrian-oriented design features.
While I know the people responsible for this plan are much smarter and more well-trained than I in this area of expertise, you gotta admit that getting rid of the thing would be much nicer:

[thumbnail]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16815944/nl-redone.jpg[/thumbnail]
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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby Andrew_F » January 2nd, 2013, 3:02 pm

I'm having a tough time buying this one:
Grade issues at both the railroad trench and the I-94 entrance ramp that would allow for only two to four blocks of local road;
I would love to see them come down and a wide boulevard replace them-- two through-lanes plus parking with a wide parkway-esque median.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby Tyler » January 2nd, 2013, 3:06 pm

Hmm. That sucks. I didn't realize they reversed the original recommendation.
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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby mattaudio » January 2nd, 2013, 3:21 pm

Or....
A Multiway Boulevard?
:)

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby min-chi-cbus » January 2nd, 2013, 3:56 pm

That does suck. Still, if you've ever driven into Chicago from The Eisenhower (I-290) or Ohio/Ontario Streets you can see how a viaduct such as the one in Minneapolis does nothing to stop redevelopment and construction in those parts of the city. It's also a fun way to zip through so much city so fast -- a rarity usually when you're surrounded by that much density! I'll try to find a Google view:

https://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=ch ... =0CKwBELYD

If it doesn't take you to the desired location, type in: "W Ohio St & N Orleans Ave, Chicago, IL" or zoom in 2-3 times if you're at that intersection but too high above. Then scroll left and right to see how that viaduct looks.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby woofner » January 7th, 2013, 12:02 pm

North Loop Small Area Plan - Adopted April 16, 2010 - Page 68 wrote: The original plan recommended dismantling of the freeway viaduct. After further analysis, this plan reverses the original recommendation due to:
...
  • Grade issues at both the railroad trench and the I-94 entrance ramp that would allow for only two to four blocks of local road;
  • Ramping up to I-94 would eliminate the possibility of a new connection of 8th Avenue North (as described earlier in the chapter).
I've always been stunned at the half-assedness of this recommendation. These viaducts are insanely high because they pass over the Plymouth Ave overpass, and it's probably true that they would have to ramp for more than 1000' in order to meet MnDot's coddling grade standards. However, even precursory thought about this issue would question the need to have the exit configured in the same way if the traffic will be at grade through the North Loop anyway. Probably the best option would reconfigure the exit to 7th St N to allow traffic to turn left earlier and use a 3rd/4th one-way couplet. The simplest, though probably more expensive option, would have the exits intersect with Plymouth at the overpass and then proceed onto the 3rd/4th one-way couplets. Either of these options would easily allow the development of all the space between 5th & 10th Aves, not to mention the two full blocks of space that are currently wasted to the north of 10th.

Sure, MnDot doesn't want to pay to correct their expensive mistake of building these things in the first place, and the neighborhood needs to weigh whether they would prefer this traffic at-grade or in a viaduct (probably greater overall traffic in the latter). But it's a lie to say that removal would not free up more land for development, and the plan errs in pointing out that even 2 blocks freed for development could bring in $200k/year in property taxes, which could probably pay for the project by itself.
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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby mister.shoes » January 7th, 2013, 12:16 pm

redisciple wrote:...The simplest, though probably more expensive option, would have the exits intersect with Plymouth at the overpass and then proceed onto the 3rd/4th one-way couplets...
That's exactly what I was trying to wrap my head around when I started goofing around in Photoshop with Google Maps screenshots. I never did get to that part, opting to stop working with what I posted above. I was going to attempt to connect the ramps to Plymouth and 5th Street, as well as heal 11th and 12th Aves in addition to the aforementioned 3rd and 4th Street pair. There would be some complicated bridging and rerouting of ramps, but the net result would be a whole hell of a lot of high-potential land and two fewer barrier bridges.
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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby mister.shoes » January 10th, 2013, 2:40 pm

So instead of getting work done this morning, I decided to entertain my fetish for modified Google Maps and take this little road/street redo beyond the 10th Ave boundary of my first whack posted above. Here's a quick hit-list of the tweakages, or just skip down to the images.
  • 3rd/4th Street viaduct removed, along with their connecting ramps to 94
  • 3rd/4th Streets connected across 394 and the RR trench on the southeast (note, this is the messiest area for vertical clearances, and may need rethinking)
  • 3rd/4th Streets intersect with Plymouth Ave on the northwest and to 94 via shorter ramps beyond
  • 8th Ave restored between 3rd and 5th Streets
  • Napco Ave extended both directions, to 3rd Street and through the empty lot and around to the 8th Ave/Oak Lake Ave intersection
  • 12th Ave reconnected across the new 3rd/4th Streets over to a new intersection where...
  • ...East Lyndale Ave N reconfigured to properly intersect with N 6th St (N 5th St extended) with a new bridge across 94 at a more sensible, grid-aware angle
As best as I can tell from Google Maps' 45° and Street views and recalling from memory, there shouldn't be any vertical clearance or steep grade issues, even with a few freeway ramps shortened significantly. I only had to remove one building—the Twin Cities International Elementary School, sadly—but given the increased population of the North Loop, a new school would be useful.

Click to embiggen
Existing
[thumbnail]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16815944/nl-existing-rev1.jpg[/thumbnail]

Reimagined
[thumbnail]https://dl.dropbox.com/u/16815944/nl-redone-rev1.jpg[/thumbnail]
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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby twincitizen » January 12th, 2013, 4:02 pm

Very nice. Especially the addition of 8th Avenue N. That should be happening regardless.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby twincitizen » February 5th, 2014, 11:36 pm

New / slightly modified idea.

Still get rid of the elevated viaducts entirely.
Also remove Ramp C.

Build a new Ramp C* .75 mile to the north where the viaducts currently split in a V-shape near the I-94/Plymouth Ave armpit (or better yet on top of I-94 like the A B C ramps are over 394)
Build the Washington-Broadway Streetcar starter segment to help ferry people into the core. (We should build this anyways)
Peak-hour express buses (and cars of course) would continue into the CBD via existing 7th St N exit off of I-94 and/or via Broadway-to-Washington exit.

7th St N, from I-94 to Target Field is already a mini-expressway. We'd have to make the existing bike lanes fully protected with concrete barriers, but we should be doing that anyways, considering the high speed traffic design on 7th/10th.

This scenario would not connect 3rd/4th with I-94 as mister.shoes' scenario does, nor would they be one-way pairs. 3rd could probably connect to Plymouth.

The idea is a little half-baked, but I'm still thinking it through.

We just have to get rid of those viaducts to free up that land for development and vastly improve the area around 3rd Ave N where they smash into the Warehouse District. The world will not come crashing down around us. We will be able to add a few thousand more residents to N. Loop and greatly enhance the livability of the area, adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the tax base.

Before we start getting into circular arguments about traffic, #waroncars, etc., let's all take a breath and realize this would be 10-15 years out when developable land in North Loop is nearly exhausted. Hopefully Bottineau LRT and several arterial bus lines will be running by then as well. Bottom line, the viaducts are (hopefully) not going to be permanent fixtures on the North Loop skyline.

*I'm sure you're thinking, "who would possibly use this new Ramp C so far from the CBD?" Right out of the chute, Metro Transit employees and Target Field visitors would use it. Keep in mind Metro Transit is planning on building a second bus garage up against I-94 behind the current facility. They may sell their current employee overflow parking lot along 5th St N. Developers have already approached them. They're talking about having employee parking on the roof of the new bus garage. Metro Transit's new facility could be integrated with the new parking ramp and built as one big project. It's really not much further for Target Field than present-day parking underneath the viaduct. Fully developed 4th and 5th Streets with attractive streetscapes and pedestrian lighting would make this walk a lot more bearable for ballpark users.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby xandrex » February 6th, 2014, 10:08 am

Wouldn't you need a significant office presence nearby in order to make building that ramp worthwhile?

The benefit of Ramp C is that it is built above the highway and still has easy, skyway-connected service to the CBD. Having a non-skyway-connected ramp that far out would certainly discourage cars, but it seems it would be difficult to justify the price.

But maybe I just enjoy Ramp C, since it's right next to where I work, and whenever I have to drive downtown, it's the cheapest of the ramps. :mrgreen:

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby Wedgeguy » February 6th, 2014, 10:45 am

Ramp C was built with federal dollars, so I don't think that the city will have that much say in tearing down a parking ramp only to rebuild another one. Ramp C will come into play more as the North Loop expands. Tearing down the Viaducts too are federally paid for roadways. Not sure those tax groups would like us wasting money tearing down perfectly good roads that are paid for.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby mattaudio » February 6th, 2014, 11:12 am

Technically, the wasting of money happened when the federal government gave so much money to build out the 394 trench, 94 viaduct, and ABC ramps against the interest of good urbanism in our city.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby John » February 6th, 2014, 11:40 am

On a huge scale , Boston created the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to reclaim the city from the antiquated freeway designs of the mid century 1900's as part of "The Big Dig" project completed in 2008. Note: the section in the "North End" which was originally elevated freeways, ramps etc. All you urbanists should take a trip to see this. I'm of the age where I was lucky to see the before and after of this project. It's remarkable how positive this was for Boston.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Fitzg ... y_Greenway
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2008_ ... 303146.jpg

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby Wedgeguy » February 6th, 2014, 11:49 am

Your 2 decades and a mind set late for that! The ABC ramps were considered great urbanism back in the 80s as they were designed to help keep car traffic out of the city, and reduce the need to build more parking in the CBD. That is part of why we have that wall of parking on 5th Ave. The city leaders at that time basically wrote off the DTE area as wasteland. But that was part of keeping the core of the city compact. We now have to live with those mistakes and work to do our best to create holes in that wall to allow people to penetrate into the core from east of 5th avenue and over 394. Some mistakes we can't erase, still we can make sure that we increase the walkability of the area so housing and other uses can become more of a place that one can walk to. If we are going to increase residential in DTE and North Loop, then we have to make the streets better to walk on. We have to work to make it easier to get across 394 without spending a huge amount of money to do that. There needs to be more buses on Washington and 5th, though the LRT does help there on getting into the core. As we learned from the 50's and 60's, the tear it down and start over does not usually work very well. It's taking what you have, and tweaking it and slowly adding to what you already have, that usually makes neighborhoods much more attractive. It is called getting the bang for your limited bucks!

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby RailBaronYarr » February 6th, 2014, 1:55 pm

Wedgeguy wrote:Ramp C was built with federal dollars, so I don't think that the city will have that much say in tearing down a parking ramp only to rebuild another one. Ramp C will come into play more as the North Loop expands. Tearing down the Viaducts too are federally paid for roadways. Not sure those tax groups would like us wasting money tearing down perfectly good roads that are paid for.
So when it comes time for them to be rehabbed in 10-15 years (as twincitizen notes as the timeframe) at $X million, it should definitely be on the table to spend similar amounts of money (potentially less) to remove the viaducts and create a much better streetscape that will return money to Minneapolis in property tax revenue.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby Wedgeguy » February 6th, 2014, 2:44 pm

I leave that to the STATE transportation committee. That is part of a state or federal highway. So to me, that means that the city will not have the ultimate say in what happens as far if it is rehabbed or torn down. Not to say it can't be done, but less likely.

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Re: 3rd/4th Viaduct + Development

Postby twincitizen » February 6th, 2014, 2:53 pm

Wedgeguy wrote:I leave that to the STATE transportation committee.
Perhaps we should be doing something about this now, while Minneapolis DFLers Chair transportation committees in both chambers of the legislature?

Not tearing the ramps down now, of course, but establishing that it's a priority for the City and something we definitely want to do.

Like I said, my Ramp C idea was kinda half baked. If people wouldn't use it, then no, of course we shouldn't waste money on it. But pretending like the current Ramp C (and viaducts obviously) aren't blocking future growth of North Loop, then you're kidding yourself. As more downtown workers shift to transit with the buildout of our LRT system (currently 40%, goal is 60%), more space will become available in Ramps A & B and elsewhere downtown.

This idea isn't about 2014. This is about 2020, 2030 and beyond. I thought we made long range plans for a reason: because things like this take a long time. Planning for eventual removal is the right thing to do.


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