Washington Avenue (reconstruction, restriping, etc.)

Downtown - North Loop - Mill District - Elliot Park - Loring Park
gpete
Union Depot
Posts: 335
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 9:33 am
Location: Seward, Mpls

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby gpete » May 2nd, 2013, 2:46 pm

Of particular interest might be this "Traffic Operation Analysis."
http://www.hennepin.us/files/HennepinUS ... pr2013.pdf

And at the end of the document, the engineering firm (Alliant) gives some recommendations about traffic needs on Washington.

1. During PM rush hour, 2 lanes eastbound will do fine, as long as there are dedicated left-turn lanes.
2. Westbound, the report recommends keeping 3 travel lanes to accommodate PM rush hour.
3. The report says there should be left-turn lanes at every intersection that allows left turns and there should be right-turn lanes where possible.
4. It also makes some recommendations about removing or relocating bus stops so that buses don't block travel lanes.

If the County accepts the conclusions from this report, it sounds like there might not be much ROW left over to play around with.

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
Posts: 7941
Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby mattaudio » May 2nd, 2013, 3:17 pm

Right turn lanes? Gross.

ECtransplant
US Bank Plaza
Posts: 751
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 9:56 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby ECtransplant » May 2nd, 2013, 4:37 pm

gpete wrote:4. It also makes some recommendations about removing or relocating bus stops so that buses don't block travel lanes.
Sigh.

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
Posts: 7941
Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby mattaudio » May 2nd, 2013, 5:29 pm

Did they question the assumption that Washington Avenue needs to "meet the demand" of rush hour traffic?

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
Posts: 2702
Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 2nd, 2013, 7:47 pm

More of the same. If Hennepin County and Minneapolis were truly interested in making downtown a place to live and for pedestrians to at least have similar priority and safety as cars they would ask these 'tough' questions.

seanrichardryan
Capella Tower
Posts: 3940
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 9:33 pm
Location: Merriam Park, St. Paul
Contact:

Wah

Postby seanrichardryan » May 2nd, 2013, 11:46 pm

Washington Avenue is a great place to walk, it's mostly the buildings and empty lots that ruin the experience.
Q. What, what? A. In da butt.

helsinki
Landmark Center
Posts: 298
Joined: October 9th, 2012, 2:01 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby helsinki » May 3rd, 2013, 4:16 am

I think this report (http://www.hennepin.us/files/HennepinUS ... pr2013.pdf) is seriously flawed. It makes a number of assumptions (in bold) that I think are just plain wrong:

1. Wider is better. “the existing ROW space is less than what is necessary to ideally accommodate all transportation modes” (§ 1.3) How wide is Washington? According to § 2.2, it is between 110 and 120 feet (ie, really wide).

2. Automobile traffic takes priority over other transport modes. “The remaining ROW space not used for motorized moving traffic lanes may be allocated for any other combination of uses (e.g., bike lanes, pedestrian sidewalks, medians, streetscaping, on street parking, etc.). These ROW allocation aspects are not specifically evaluated herein” (§ 1.3) [emphasis added]

3. Washington is a regional road, not a local street. The purpose of the street is to funnel auto commuters to the freeways, not to connect the neighborhoods through which it runs. “Washington Avenue serves an important role as a regional A-Minor Arterial […] As an arterial street, Washington Avenue provides direct access to I-35W on the east end of the CBD, I-394 in the central portion of the CBD and I-94 on the westerly end of the CBD.” (§ 2.1)

4. The objective of redesign should be moving automobiles quickly. “The efficient movement of motor vehicle traffic is a key objective in weighing the feasibility of any design alternative for Washington Avenue. Equally important is determining the potential consequence of any impacts resulting from increased congestion levels along Washington Avenue” (§ 6.0)

5. Congestion = Bad. Congestion = Cars Moving Slowly. So Cars Moving Slowly = Bad. So Cars Moving Fast = Good. This is honestly the level of intellectual rigor that goes into this stuff. Is this how decisions really get made? “Figure 10 graphically illustrates the expected congestion along Washington Avenue for each scenario. The key measure is average motorist operating speed (thresholds based upon level of service criteria defined in the Highway Capacity Manual).” (§ 6.3.2) Right . . . , so – what we need to do is make Washington into a high-speed roadway and damn everything else? Brilliant idea.

6. Downtown residential development and the Central Corridor LRT will increase automobile traffic. This is found at § 5.1 “Forecast 2035 Traffic Volumes” and doesn’t make any sense. Mixed use development and transit improvements precisely do not increase auto traffic because they (1) reduce the number of trips required in the first place, and (2) allow for trips to be made by alternative modes of walking, biking, and transit.

7. There is going to be sustained compound growth in traffic volume. This assumption is based on what I think can charitably be called pseudoscience (“a system of theories, assumptions, and methods erroneously regarded as scientific”; http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pseudoscience). According to § 5.1, traffic volumes will increase lock-step at a rate of 0.5 percent per year. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is (for a stark illustration of the silliness of compound growth, check out Jeremy Grantham’s analysis that a 1% increase in the population of Ancient Egypt would, by the time Egypt collapsed, have seen the population grow 9 trillion times: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/7853 [go to section “Failure to Appreciate the Impossibility of Sustained Compound Growth]).

Again, the issue of induced demand goes unaddressed ('improving' traffic 'flow' induces more people to drive, thereby increasing congestion). As said many times elsewhere, of course, the classic Upton Sinclair quote holds true: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Replace "man" with "civil engineer" and "something" with "induced demand".

Also rather rich is the graphic comparison (starting on page 51) between Washington and 3rd St. Green = Good. Red = Bad. “Washington is Red in comparison with 3rd, which is Green, so let’s make it more Green, like 3rd !” Beyond the childish logic of this, it begs the question as to why there is so little traffic on 3rd. It might be because 3rd has uninteresting adjacent land uses due to the uninviting streetscape wrought by an auto-centric infrastructure mindset lacking metrics for aesthetics and uninterested in alternative transportation modes, but that’s just my opinion.

For a host of reasons, therefore, I think this study is bogus.

Better would be:
  • • Two ten to eleven (10 - 11) foot wide traffic lanes in each direction with a center left turn lane (total of five lanes at eleven feet each, or 50 - 55 feet),
    • dedicated 6 foot parking lanes on both sides (12 feet),
    • 20 foot building to curb space. This includes the frontage area (tables/chairs, outside vending), the walk area, the planting / furnishing zone (plantings = trees, furnishings = benches, bike parking, & bus stops), and the edge zone (parking meters). Total of 40 feet.
    • Corner curb bump-outs to decrease the distance required to cross the street. These don't add to the width, instead they replace width designated for parking elsewhere. Reduces distance to cross the street from 67 feet to 55 feet.


By my count, that makes 102 - 107 feet; well within the 110 – 120 ROW that exists.

Fantasy? Doesn’t seem all that different from the design guidelines for streets and sidewalks for the City of Minneapolis (http://www.minneapolismn.gov/www/groups ... 283657.pdf).

By contrast, following this report’s recommendations and abidcating (what are really political, not "technical") design decisions to self-interested civil engineering contractors seems like a really bad idea.

1200onthemall
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 110
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 1:23 pm
Location: Downtown Minneapolis

Re: Wah

Postby 1200onthemall » May 3rd, 2013, 5:45 am

seanrichardryan wrote:Washington Avenue is a great place to walk, it's mostly the buildings and empty lots that ruin the experience.

REALLY??!! A great place to walk? My office is on Washington Ave at 10th and I beg to differ that it is anything but a "great place to walk".
Just crossing the street, even with the walk light is dangerous and will cause some drivers to honk because you are in the crosswalk. Spend 10 minuets at 10th and Washington during rush hour and then tell me it's a "great place to walk" just my opinion.....

min-chi-cbus
Capella Tower
Posts: 3131
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 9:19 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » May 3rd, 2013, 7:14 am

I liked everything you had to write, helsinki, and agree with just about all of it. I wouldn't be overly concerned with this "study" just yet.....I know it's hard but try to have a little faith that everything will work out okay (I think it will).

User avatar
trkaiser
Landmark Center
Posts: 257
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 9:05 am
Location: Northeast Minneapolis
Contact:

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby trkaiser » May 3rd, 2013, 7:36 am

Good stuf, Helsinki. This is not at all what I was expecting to come from this study. Washington can be surprisingly sketchy to walk at night, too, with its lack of lighting or other people on the street.

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
Posts: 2702
Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 8:21 am

I'd do things a little differently - with a 110'+ ROW as you mention, we have a LOT of options.. Some could include reserving space for dedicated transit, but I'll ignore that as I don't think a streetcar or LRT will be in Washington Ave's future (at least in the next 20-30 years, just shy of a possible lifecycle evaluation of the street).

My take would be to keep the pedestrian realm big but allocate it differently. From building face inward (assuming 110' ROW):

- 8' sidewalk
- 4' Sidewalk with small tree/planter/sidewalk light area (adds to sidewalk width but dedicating space for tree coverage, bike racks, etc). Can also put bollards right up against the curb if the budget allows.
- 8' Bike/Car Slip lane - this is still part of the pedestrian realm! Cars drive <10 mph infrequently, basically getting in or out of parking spaces, picking someone up. Bikes use this as the safe space for comfortable travel. Pedestrians can walk in to it without fear or even looking.
- 6' dedicated to car parking. Metered. At market rates. 1 space per block dedicated to delivery vehicles, 1 space dedicated to handicap parking.
- 5' median separating parking lane from the vehicle thoroughfare. This median can have taller trees planted in it with thicker trunks that further separate the pedestrian realm from the cars with some safety as well as lighting that faces the street. If bigger, leafy trees are used then the sidewalk should go with planters or concrete for the 4' section.
- 2 x 10' lanes - these are for driving vehicles, trucks, buses. If this street is done right, over time there won't be as much need for cars and the outer lane can be dedicated to bus traffic (with pedestrian facilities in the 5' median). There is no need for larger than 10' widths - cars will be driving 30 mph or less.
- Center area - My thought is 9 total feet (4.5' each way from street center-line) to be for left turn lanes, and mid-block you have planters, possibly more small trees (budget allowing).

This makes 55.5' from center line to building face, or 111' ROW. We preserve 2 lanes of moving traffic plus a slip lane, on-street parking on both sides, and a generous pedestrian realm. On sections where the ROW is 120', the space goes to sidewalks, NOT lanes on the street. Washington Ave has the capability to be a major commercial and living corridor - a place where you could walk from the far end of the North Loop to Seven Corners (and by extension the U) - 2.0 miles and be amazed with the number of places to eat, things to do and see, etc. Think of the stuff along the route today! Think of what COULD be there! Think of how so many blocks you could turn left or right and see even more things within 1-2 blocks (Acme Club, Guthrie, Vikes Stadium, Mpls Library, Stone Arch, Gold Medal Park, etc etc). This is a very important street.

I have other hair-brained ideas where the city/county sell of 50' of ROW in the center of the street to allow for development of smaller 2-4 story buildings with ground floor retail and office/housing above, with very narrow streets between it and the existing buildings on each side. Less infrastructure to maintain, easy way to add density without losing existing buildings, and turns a stroad in to a local street. But I doubt that could ever happen given the county's involvement and 'need' to have 2 lanes of car traffic each way (among other possible technical challenges).

min-chi-cbus
Capella Tower
Posts: 3131
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 9:19 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby min-chi-cbus » May 3rd, 2013, 8:30 am

Ooooo.....I like your buildings in the street idea! I also think instead of having "very narrow streets between it" you could just have one-way streets on either side of the "buildings median".

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
Posts: 2702
Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 8:47 am

I know it's vastly off-topic, but yeah. Basically make the buildings 50' x 100' - downtown blocks could accommodate 3 per block width and have 15' alternating one-way alleys between them, allowing for intersection infrastructure to exist. Long blocks in other areas of the city could have up to 5 per block. Buildings could be connected on the 2nd+ stories above the alleyway to add space. Just a dumb thought.

/back to Washington Ave.

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5831
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby MNdible » May 3rd, 2013, 9:16 am

Just to be clear as we're hyperventilating about induced demand here...

The study is looking at how much Washington Avenue can be reduced, not how much it should be expanded.

helsinki
Landmark Center
Posts: 298
Joined: October 9th, 2012, 2:01 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby helsinki » May 3rd, 2013, 9:19 am

RailBaronYarr wrote: My take would be to keep the pedestrian realm big but allocate it differently. From building face inward (assuming 110' ROW):

- 8' sidewalk
- 4' Sidewalk with small tree/planter/sidewalk light area (adds to sidewalk width but dedicating space for tree coverage, bike racks, etc). Can also put bollards right up against the curb if the budget allows.
- 8' Bike/Car Slip lane - this is still part of the pedestrian realm! Cars drive <10 mph infrequently, basically getting in or out of parking spaces, picking someone up. Bikes use this as the safe space for comfortable travel. Pedestrians can walk in to it without fear or even looking.
- 6' dedicated to car parking. Metered. At market rates. 1 space per block dedicated to delivery vehicles, 1 space dedicated to handicap parking.
- 5' median separating parking lane from the vehicle thoroughfare. This median can have taller trees planted in it with thicker trunks that further separate the pedestrian realm from the cars with some safety as well as lighting that faces the street. If bigger, leafy trees are used then the sidewalk should go with planters or concrete for the 4' section.
- 2 x 10' lanes - these are for driving vehicles, trucks, buses. If this street is done right, over time there won't be as much need for cars and the outer lane can be dedicated to bus traffic (with pedestrian facilities in the 5' median). There is no need for larger than 10' widths - cars will be driving 30 mph or less.
- Center area - My thought is 9 total feet (4.5' each way from street center-line) to be for left turn lanes, and mid-block you have planters, possibly more small trees (budget allowing).

This makes 55.5' from center line to building face, or 111' ROW. We preserve 2 lanes of moving traffic plus a slip lane, on-street parking on both sides, and a generous pedestrian realm. On sections where the ROW is 120', the space goes to sidewalks, NOT lanes on the street.)
This sounds roughly similar to the Avenue Kléber in Paris:

http://25.media.tumblr.com/8e89072c27ef ... 1_1280.jpg

If I had a suggestion to alter your idea, it would be to make the 8' Bike/Car Slip lane a "shared space" (ie one with no curbs / same elevation as sidewalk, just different surface materials).

Since the people with the power likely have some pretty retro ideas about all this, I think your plan might be a bit of a stretch. It would be pretty awesome though.

User avatar
woofner
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1327
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 10:04 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby woofner » May 3rd, 2013, 9:28 am

Helsinki, you have some great points. I agree that the document is seriously flawed, but I'm not surprised because Hennepin County's Transportation (read: Highway) Engineering department is out of touch. They're going to take it in the chin on May 14th, and deservedly so. We need to make Gail Dorfman, Peter McLaughlin, and Linda Higgins' inboxes and voicemail boxes explode on this issue, and I would recommend when you're contacting them, demand that the Transportation Engineering office be moved out of Medina and into someplace where you can at least walk to a restaurant at lunch. This is a serious issue, we are all a product of our environment.

Anyway, specific to Washington, in addition to your critique Helsinki I would add that this statement, on page 4, is basically a big Fuck You to the City of Minneapolis and I hope it's interpreted as such:
The City of Minneapolis Guidelines for Streets and
Sidewalks do not prescribe specific design criteria for Activity Center Streets, since each
street may have unique needs depending on the adjacent land uses and how the street
serves motorists and other users of the area. As such, the design criteria for Washington
Avenue will be determined through the project development process and guided by
industry standards, including; Minnesota State Aid Rules; Minnesota Manual on Uniform
Traffic Control Devices and supplemented by other street design manuals.
The MSA rules and the MMUTCD also have wishy-washy statements about how "every street is a special little snowflake" and "not every rule applies to every street" and blah blah blah, but, like the Minneapolis Street & Sidewalk Design Guidelines, MnDot and AASHTO wouldn't have wasted their time coming up with them if they didn't want engineers to take them seriously. The Design Guidelines clearly state on page 10-11 that Activity Area streets in commercial areas are recommended to have 20' sidewalks on either side, and a minimum of 15'. If Hennepin County wants to build smaller sidewalks in defiance of these guidelines they can certainly try, but to pretend they don't exist is just insulting.
RailBaronYarr wrote:Some could include reserving space for dedicated transit, but I'll ignore that as I don't think a streetcar or LRT will be in Washington Ave's future (at least in the next 20-30 years, just shy of a possible lifecycle evaluation of the street).
Actually there are enough buses running on Washington now to justify bus lanes (twice as many per hour at peak than Nicollet Mall I believe) and the fact that they didn't even include a scenario with bus lanes is more reason why Jim Grube and their entire Transportation Engineering department should be fired.
"Who rescued whom!"

MNdible
is great.
Posts: 5831
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:14 pm
Location: Minneapolis

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby MNdible » May 3rd, 2013, 9:31 am

redisciple wrote:Actually there are enough buses running on Washington now to justify bus lanes (twice as many per hour at peak than Nicollet Mall I believe)...
Could this possibly be true?

mattaudio
Stone Arch Bridge
Posts: 7941
Joined: June 19th, 2012, 2:04 pm
Location: NORI: NOrth of RIchfield

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby mattaudio » May 3rd, 2013, 9:40 am

I really don't understand why engineers think that Washington needs to be built to handle existing (peak) demand, let alone future demand that will likely never pan out. It's the common problem where we're discussing street design in a vacuum rather than in a network. There's a pile of alternatives for drivers, namely a grid of (mostly) three lane one way streets which move traffic around downtown. We're even making it easier to get out of downtown by connecting 4th St to 35W north. So focus on local land use and people first (the actual purpose of a street) and peak car commutes second.

RailBaronYarr
Capella Tower
Posts: 2702
Joined: September 16th, 2012, 4:31 pm

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby RailBaronYarr » May 3rd, 2013, 9:58 am

MNdible wrote:Just to be clear as we're hyperventilating about induced demand here...

The study is looking at how much Washington Avenue can be reduced, not how much it should be expanded.
Reduced number of lanes but increasing vehicle capacity through 'better' / more car facilities like turn lanes, etc. It doesn't seem to me to be reducing vehicle ROW but modifying it while keeping the status quo of it being defined as a feeder/arterial road linking 35W and the North Lopp to mainly the CBD, with the sole purpose also defined as maximizing throughput.

User avatar
woofner
Wells Fargo Center
Posts: 1327
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 10:04 am

Re: Washington Avenue

Postby woofner » May 3rd, 2013, 10:20 am

MNdible wrote:
redisciple wrote:Actually there are enough buses running on Washington now to justify bus lanes (twice as many per hour at peak than Nicollet Mall I believe)...
Could this possibly be true?
Yes, because Marquette & 2nd buses deadhead on Washington going to the Gateway ramp. Check pages 10 & 44 of the Traffic Operations Analysis for specifics. In addition all Nicollet Mall buses that continue over the 3rd Ave bridge use Washington for a block, and could use the bus lanes for the entire distance to 3rd instead of the weird confusing jaunt to 1st St.
"Who rescued whom!"


Return to “Minneapolis - Downtown”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ace and 7 guests