A slew of major intersections in Anoka County, and a few in Ramsey and Washington counties, are among metro-area junctions being considered for expensive upgrades that would eliminate the traffic signals that hinder free-flowing movement.

Mind you, the officials doing the research aren’t yet promising fixes for any of them.

But the exercise itself is a revealing peek into which metro-area intersections are the most frustrating — and possibly dangerous — roadways in the metro area to stop at red lights.

Said Arlene McCarthy, the Metropolitan Council’s transportation director, at a briefing for Met Council members: “Let’s try and identify ahead of time, using transparent methodology, which we would recommend.”

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is teaming up with the Met Council on studies of high-volume intersections where motorists now have to sit at stoplights, notably Hwy. 65 and Central Avenue, and on Hwy. 36 in the northeast suburbs.

The issue concerns what engineers call “principal arterials,” meaning freeways and other roadways whose purpose is longer-distance travel at higher speeds and fewer interruptions than in other parts of the system.

The elimination of signalized intersections on such thoroughfares has been a major point of emphasis in recent years, with palpable results on arterials such as Hwy. 13 in Scott County.

Analysts identified 374 potential targets and then narrowed that list to 104 for closer examination.

They discarded the signalized intersections on Hwy. 36 in the Stillwater area that were redone as part of the St. Croix Bridge project, which would be wasteful to start over.

The goal is to find the highest priority targets, given several factors: high traffic volumes, long waits, high crash rates — anything that should be weighed to make a decision based on logic rather than politics.

Coincidentally, in March the process of highway project selection in Minnesota came under fire from the Legislative Auditor’s office.

“MnDOT’s standard selection process is not transparent to stakeholders or the public; MnDOT does not provide enough information about what it decides not to do,” the auditor’s office said.

Specific spots to be examined further in the coming months include:

Anoka County

• County Road 14 at Hanson Boulevard;

• Hwy. 10 from Ramsey Boulevard to Fairoak Avenue;

• Hwy. 65, split into segments from Interstate 694 to Hwy. 10, from north of Hwy. 10 to Bunker Lake, and from north of there to the county boundary.

Washington County

• Hwy. 36 at Century Avenue;

• Hwy. 36 from De Montreville Trail to Manning Avenue.

Ramsey County

• Shepard Road at Interstate 35E;

• Hwy. 36 at Century Avenue;

• Hwy. 61/10 at Warner Road;

• Hwy. 280 at Broadway Street.

 

The detailed planning document also provides information on what has been screened out of consideration at this point and for what reasons, such as low traffic volume.

The document can be found at www.metrocouncil.org/PAICS/ (check link for Principal Arterial Intersection Conversion Study Phase 1).