Construction zones can be tricky to navigate, but throw in confusing and contradictory signs and that takes it to a whole new level.

Todd was one of a handful of the Drive readers who asked about obfuscating signs in the area of 8th Avenue NE. and Marshall Street where the Minneapolis Public Works department is working on a water main project, and he wondered if roads that are marked as closed really are.

“Heading east down West Broadway, there is a sign stating that southbound Marshall Street is closed and that drivers should detour onto West River Road. There still appear to be two open lanes to traffic on Marshall Street, which people take at will. I’ve seen people driving side by side as if it’s a one way, and at other times it’s treated as a two-lane road. Furthermore, if you’re heading east over the Plymouth Avenue bridge, a sign states that northbound Marshall Street is closed. However, I see many people turning down this way as nothing is clearly blocked nor marked. Is Marshall closed or not? Why all the confusing signage?”

The Drive took two field trips to the area late last week and agrees with Todd that it’s not intuitively obvious what lanes are open. I was eastbound on Broadway and saw the sign that states that southbound Marshall is closed and was prepared to follow the posted detour to West River Road. When I reached Marshall, there were Road Closed signs blocking the southbound lanes with a detour arrow pointing me west. It sure looked closed, but the motorist in front of me made a left onto Marshall, so I followed.

As it turns out only one side of the road is being dug up. The northbound traffic and bike lane have been reconfigured to accommodate both northbound and southbound traffic separated by pylons down the center of the street. So technically, Marshall is open, but definitely use an abundance of caution.

Things get even more interesting at the intersection of 8th Avenue NE. and Marshall Street where a number of jersey walls jut out into the traffic lanes. That’s led to some dangerous maneuvers. Some drivers are making wide right turns to get from southbound Marshall onto westbound 8th Avenue. What’s even scarier is that drivers westbound on 8th are apparently disobeying Road Closed signs since lanes are not totally blocked off, although they were on Friday morning.

“A few drivers continue up to 2nd Street NE. or Main Street. Others continue on through the closed portion [of 8th Avenue] anyway, including a school bus that nearly creamed me,” Todd said. “It’s been interesting. I’ve seen some near misses. It’s a small miracle that collisions aren’t occurring every minute.”

Minneapolis spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said Public Works is reviewing signage and detour routes “to improve clarity for motorists in the area.”

The bottom line is that it’s an ever-changing landscape in the good ol’ Northeast, and it will get more challenging before it gets better. Starting Sept, 19, CenterPoint Energy will resume replacing a natural gas line that will bring lane closures on southbound Main Street through November. Work will begin at 5th Avenue NE. and then move northward to 8th Avenue NE. Detours will take drivers onto Marshall Street, 8th Avenue NE. and 6th Avenue NE.


Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.