A long-awaited, long-debated attempt at fixing the crash-prone and tricky Cedar-Franklin-Minnehaha intersection in south Minneapolis appears to be close to a go.

The Minneapolis City Council approved the project layout Friday for the Hennepin County project. The County Board is scheduled to act on it May 24. Once that happens, work should start in September, with paving by early October.

The $946,000 project, which started as a milling and repaving of five blocks of existing E. Franklin Avenue, now has something for everybody.

For drivers, there’s an effort to make left turns from Franklin onto Cedar safer.  For truckers going south on Cedar to Minnehaha, there’s a new left turn lane off Cedar to E. 22nd Street.  For walkers, there are bigger medians as refuges for crossing Franklin and Cedar avenues. For bikers, there are new shared-use off-road lanes along sections of Cedar and Franklin, with plans to connect to a future protected bike lane on 20th Avenue.

The junction long has as one of the city’s worst for crashes. It ranked highest in the city for car-bike collisions for 10 straight years ending in 2010. A 2008 city pedestrian plan also rated it highly in need of improvements. An average of 20 motor vehicle crashes happen there annually, nearly two a month.

The changes would address an intersection that’s drawn complaints since the 19th century when the congestion involved streetcars and trains. Things didn’t improve much after a 1950s effort at a fix created a complicated new weave of major streets. But previous efforts to remedy the current situation foundered when they grew too expensive.  

Part of the fix will involve closing Minnehaha Avenue north of Franklin for about 200 feet in front of the Taco Bell fast-food eatery. That allows removal of the Franklin-Minnehaha traffic signal and means there’s essentially not a full direct route on Minnehaha through the area, removing one source of conflict.