The newly reconstructed intersection of 42nd Street and Cedar Avenue is getting a big thumbs-down from nearby business owners and residents.
Hennepin County closed the south Minneapolis intersection in May to install new pavement, left-turn lanes, sidewalks and traffic signals with audio cues. When the intersection reopened in early June, about 60 on-street parking spaces in the vicinity had disappeared.
"They took it all," said Jim Landvick, who runs the Cedar Inn Bar & Grill. "My customers are complaining. It's going to destroy my business."
Before the redo, both streets had one travel lane in each direction with curbside parking up to the corner. The tight intersection made it challenging for drivers making left turns and was crash-prone, with 88 mishaps between 2006 and 2015, said Tom Musick, coordinator of the county's Transportation Safety Program.
The county secured a federal grant in 2018 to address safety issues, and since 2020 conducted public engagement sessions, a virtual open house and a community survey to get the word out, Musick said.
But with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, the message apparently didn't get to everybody.
"We may not have connected with everyone. We need to improve on that," Musick said.
Julia Hatlestad, who runs a furniture store called Groovy's, said she only learned of the project this spring when she got a letter.
"We were blindsided," she said. "Nowhere did they say parking would be affected."
Hatlestad said about 70% of her customers park on the street. Now, with no place to park or stop to load furniture, she fears customers will take their business elsewhere. Foot traffic is already down, she said.
"They never took that into account," she said. "We won't make it without parking."
Residents have not been thrilled, either.
"I want to shop there. I want to give the small businesses my money," resident Beverly Gores said. "Instead, I had to drive home and eat carrots that were in my refrigerator for lunch. I'm not walking, at 66 years old, three blocks for a taco."
The new left-turn lanes extend about halfway down the block and seem longer than they need to be, Hatlestad said. Shortening them could bring back some of the lost parking, she said.
Musick said the county has gotten feedback since the intersection reopened and is working in concert with Minneapolis Public Works to evaluate potential adjustments to the lane configurations.
"We have to balance a number of factors, and at the end of the day the safety of all road users will take priority," he said.
Landvick said he hopes something is done fast. The situation is so desperate that he joked he may have to use a golf cart to provide a shuttle "because nobody is going to walk three-fourths of a block to get a beer."