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Dowling Avenue drivers confused by new lane layout

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: July 29, 2014 - 11:49 AM

No, this motorist is not driving illegally down the center of the road, even if it looks like it. He's actually in the proper lane, even though he's far from the curb.

But not everybody has been able figure out the new configuration on Dowling Avenue, so you'll have give some grace to those who suddenly zig and zag in and out of the traffic lanes and can't figure out where they are supposed to be.

The bustling east-west thoroughfare through north Minneapolis has one travel lane in each direction. The street is undergoing a big makeover this month. As part of that, travel lanes have been moved and most of the on-street parking eliminated to make room for a new bike lane.

Compounding the issue is a seal coating project that started last week and loose gravel covers the road, leaving only small tabs simulating lane markings to delineate the driving, biking and parking lanes.

Eastbound drivers might have it the most challenging. The new driving lane is closer to the center of the street, but at times shifts back closer to the curb at busy intersections such as Penn Avenue and Lyndale Avenue to leave room for left turn lanes. 

There aslo is a bike lane that runs to the right along the entire corridor, but the parking lane disappears in places. In those spots, traffic lanes veer to the right, then back center when parking areas return.

Westbound traffic is now routed in what used to be a parking lane. Temporary signs prohibiting parking have been posted, but it hasn't stopped some from doing so. That has motorists weaving around parked cars and sometimes into oncoming traffic.

The seal coating portion of the project should be done late this week, and the city will come and sweep up the excess chips. Once that's done, crews can paint the permanent lane markings and then signage and bike symbols for the bike lane.

"Tabs are an interim way to mark the streets," said Simon Belnski, bicycle planner for the city's Public Works department. After the permanent lines are painted, 'it will look more intuitive."

When the project is done, Dowling will have two lanes for vehicles, bike lanes in each direction and limited parking. Parking will be restricted in the following areas:

  • Both sides of the street between Xerxes Avenue and Thomas Avenue and Lyndale Avenue to Washington Avenue
  • The north side of the street between Thomas Avenue and Humboldt Avenue
  • The south side of the street from Humboldt Avenue to Fremont Avenue
  • The north side of the street from Fremont Avenue to Lyndale Avenue

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