'Dynamic' I-35W lane is actually a shoulder

  • Article by: KAREN YOUSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 19, 2010 - 5:46 PM

Q On the reconstructed stretch of Interstate 35W in south Minneapolis coming into downtown, why do they close the HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle)/Sane Lane that begins at 46th Street north into the city? Why not do what's done on stretches of I-394 that don't need to share the lane? During non-rush hour times just keep it open for all, and restrict it during rush hour.

A It's because the I-35W lane is designated as a shoulder, not an actual lane.

In traffic-speak, it's called a "dynamic shoulder lane," basically a shoulder during off-peak hours and a lane during high-use hours.

"When speeds are high in an off-peak period, you want to have a shoulder for vehicles to be able to relocate when somebody is stalled or in an incident," said Minnesota Department of Transportation freeway operations engineer Brian Kary. "During peak period you want that shoulder to be used as an HOV or MnPass [express] lane."

On the other hand, I-394 has "a full-sized design," with both an HOV lane and shoulder, Kary said. "On 35W we're trying to get more lanes in a smaller space."

MnDOT said the lane is open northbound between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and southbound between 2 and 7 p.m.

The "dynamic shoulder lane" on 35W is something relatively new in this country, but widely used in Europe.

BILL WARD

Don't hang flag from tree

Q Is it legal to hang a U.S. flag from a tree?

A It's a no-no to fly an American flag from a tree, says First Lt. Kenneth Toole, a public affairs officer at the Minnesota National Guard's Camp Ripley.

The U.S. Flag Code states that the flag needs to be displayed from a permanent structure, he said.

"It needs to be on a structure where, say, if the wind was blowing, it wouldn't blow the flag off or blow the branch off," Toole said.

The U.S. Flag Code lays down the rules and regulations for displaying, destroying and respecting the flag. It also defines when a flag should be flown at half-staff. The Flag Code is actually a federal law, though it's not usually enforced. Chapter 1, Section 6, Statute A of the Flag Code says the flag is to be displayed only on buildings and permanent flagstaffs.

To read the U.S. Flag Code, go to uscode.house.gov/download/pls/04C1.txt.

BEN JONES

Send your questions to Fixit in care of the Star Tribune, 425 Portland Av., Minneapolis, MN 55488, or call 612-673-7032, or e-mail fixit@startribune.com. Past columns are available at www.startribune.com/fixit. Sorry, Fixit cannot supply individual replies.

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