Residents who live along W. Minnehaha Parkway near Nicollet Avenue could see up to four times the traffic under a road redesign being considered by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The changes, part of a larger plan being developed for the parkway and the surrounding parkland, could include closing the segment of Minnehaha that runs under a bridge at Nicollet, shifting traffic to an upper roadway to cross Nicollet at street level.
The proposal is the Park Board's second attempt at plans for remaking the parkway, and will be the subject of public meetings Tuesday and Thursday.
Residents strongly objected this summer to original plans that called for installing concrete medians at key intersections along Minnehaha Parkway. The medians would have forced drivers to turn right off the parkway and onto city streets, cutting the amount of through traffic using the road that snakes along Minnehaha Creek. That idea was scrapped and led to the revised plans for the Nicollet crossing and other key points.
Under the new scenario, the number of vehicles on the upper Minnehaha roadway would rise from 300 to 1,200 per day west of Nicollet Avenue and from 560 to 1,500 vehicles per day to the east of Nicollet, according to a recent traffic study. The study also found that up to five vehicles at a time could be waiting on Minnehaha to cross Nicollet during peak periods, but that would not adversely affect the neighborhood, project manager Adam Arvidson said.
"That is well within acceptable limits for local streets," he said.
There could still be changes to the design, Arvidson said. Traffic is only one of the criteria being considered as the Park Board continues to work on its Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail Master Plan, a long-term plan with about $1.25 million in changes to the parkway, creek and adjacent trails and parkland through south Minneapolis.
The master plan is being paid for with $256,000 from the Parks and Trails Legacy Fund, part of the Minnesota voter-approved Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment. Planning began in 2018 and will continue through the first three months of 2020.
The traffic study looked at conditions for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists on Minnehaha Parkway on the lower parkway road near Nicollet Avenue, in the Lynnhurst Park area around 50th Street, and at Portland Avenue.
In the Lynnhurst Park area near W. 50th Street, the study affirmed a proposal to close a segment of the parkway and change parts of Minnehaha from two-way traffic to one-way traffic. But at the congested confluence of 50th Street, Portland Avenue and E. Minnehaha Parkway, the study urged further review of proposed changes to avoid pushing more traffic onto neighborhood streets.
"We might want to rethink things there," Arvidson said. "We need to look at queuing and driving inconvenience and balance that with pedestrian and bicycle safety at the trail crossing."
The meetings about the traffic study are set for 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Powderhorn Recreation Center, 3400 15th Avenue S., and from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Windom South Recreation Center, 5843 Wentworth Avenue S.