A plan to reshape one of Minneapolis' stickiest intersections was approved by a key City Council panel on Tuesday.
The $9 million reconstruction project would reconfigure a number of lanes at the intersection of Hennepin and Lyndale Avenues, allowing more room for bikes and pedestrians as well as making navigation easier for vehicles. The final City Council will vote on it next Friday.
The intersection is among the most important in the city, carrying travelers to and from downtown through a dense neighborhood peppered with local landmarks including the Walker Art Center and several prominent churches.
Currently, pedestrians must currently hop numerous crosswalks to get across the street and also share space with bikes that are whizzing down Lowry Hill on a protected path. The new configuration would create more direct crossings and more separated space.
Staff ultimately selected the second of two options displayed at an open house this summer, which would eliminate one northbound lane and nix some narrow single lanes that carve through medians for drivers wishing to make a turn.
It would also eliminate part of a southbound travel lane below the Walker Arts Center and tighten a curb near Dunwoody Boulevard.
Project Engineer Ole Mersinger said navigational improvements planned for cars mean the elimination of the lanes will not add traffic delays. They are planning on new electronic signage, for example, that will "let people know up front where do you need to be to get where you want to go."
"Pedestrians and bikes need to be more of a priority in this intersection," said council member Lisa Goodman, who represents part of the area. "And they have not been up until now. This has been a thoroughfare for cars for the most part. And bikes and pedestrians ought to watch out. Because if you don’t watch out you could potentially be run over. That situation has to change."
Here's a rendering of what the new path may look like: