Drivers fed up with being cut off while making turns at the intersection of Excelsior Boulevard and Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park want the Minnesota Department of Transportation to put up signs that make it clearer which lane to use.
The problem comes when motorists turn off Excelsior onto Park Center Boulevard, then have to make a quick jog to the left to access the ramp to northbound Hwy. 100.
It’s confusing and dangerous, Drive reader Jeff from St. Louis Park said. The layout features double turn lanes with one dedicated to drivers accessing northbound Hwy. 100 and the other for drivers continuing on Park Center Boulevard, a frontage road that runs parallel to Hwy. 100. Too often drivers get in the wrong turn lane, and that’s when the conflict occurs, he said.
A small sign in the center median tells drivers heading from eastbound Excelsior to northbound Hwy. 100 to use the far-left turn lane. Those turning onto Park Center Boulevard are to use the other left turn lane.
Jeff surmises that most eastbound drivers overlook the small sign and pay attention only to a larger green sign overhead that’s not as specific. Similar signs are posted on Excelsior for westbound drivers.
On a recent weekend, Jeff was eastbound and in the far-left turn lane while a pickup truck driver towing a trailer was in the other lane that takes drivers to Park Center Boulevard. The pickup accelerated quickly, then veered in front of Jeff to get on northbound Hwy. 100.
Just days later, his wife was in the turn lane bound for Park Center Boulevard when a driver in the far-left turn lane swerved in front of her instead of getting onto Hwy. 100, Jeff said, “almost wiping her out.”
At other times Jeff has seen motorists caught in the wrong lane stop until there is a gap while traffic approaches from behind.
“Please reach out to the sign folks to make it much clearer that 100 North people must be in the far-left lane,” Jeff said in an e-mail.
The Drive took his plea to MnDOT, which acknowledged the intersection has a “unique condition” with the Hwy. 100 ramp immediately on the left after drivers turn onto Park Center Boulevard.
“Drivers in the wrong lane will have to make hasty lane changes,” said Eric Peterson, MnDOT’s metro signing engineer.
Peterson said the agency acknowledges that some changes could better clarify which turn lanes drivers need to be in. He didn’t give specifics, but he said the agency is looking at “various signing and pavement marking alternatives.”
Peterson said new signs could be helpful but won’t be a panacea.
“Signing improvements can be very helpful for many motorists, which is why we are looking into making some changes,” Peterson said. “But they are usually unlikely to change the behavior of some particularly aggressive motorists.”
Why 55 mph on Hwy. 100?
In 2016, MnDOT finished expanding Hwy. 100 from two lanes to three through St. Louis Park, yet the speed limit south of Interstate 394 remains at 55 mph. Several Drive readers have wondered why it’s not 60 mph like on Hwy. 169.
This summer MnDOT is completing a study reviewing speeds on Hwy. 100 and will make a recommendation about raising it.
“We will let the data collected determine the appropriate speed limit,” said traffic engineer Kaare Festvog.
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