University Avenue in northeast Minneapolis is rife with problems.

For starters, motorists drive too fast and crash often. The pavement is in rough shape and sidewalks are narrow and in places obstructed by utility poles. Pedestrians have difficulty crossing the busy thoroughfare where there are no traffic signals, and bicyclists have nowhere to ride safely.

None of that is lost on the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which is planning to redo 2 miles of the road also known as Hwy. 47 between Central Avenue SE. and 27th Avenue NE. in 2027.

"What we have is not working," said project manager Alan Rindels.

The agency has plenty of ideas to fix the important corridor that serves as a major route for trucks moving goods and doubles as a vital connection for those who live or work in the area seeking to access downtown, nearby suburbs and the Mississippi River.

Among them is a plan to convert the road from two travel lanes in each direction to one separated by a center turn lane. The design, which has become more common in recent years, can help reduce speeds, Rindels said, pointing to results he's noticed on France Avenue in Edina after Hennepin County applied the treatment.

"People are not speeding as much," said Rindels, who uses France Avenue to get to church every week. "It creates a more sane and calmer roadway."

It might be safer, too. MnDOT data showed between 2015 and 2019, there were 512 crashes on the stretch of University to be rebuilt, including 129 at Lowry Avenue, 84 at Broadway, 35 at 1st Avenue and 27 at both Hennepin and Central avenues.

Plans also call for center medians at several dangerous intersections to limit cross traffic and provide refuge for pedestrians; curb bump-outs to make crossing distances shorter for pedestrians, and signs with flashing beacons to alert drivers that those on foot are attempting to cross. In its current condition, "it's an awful corridor for pedestrians," Rindels said.

There also could be a sliver of green space between travel lanes and wider sidewalks to accommodate snow and improve aesthetics, and a raised bike lane between Central and 1st Avenue.

MnDOT continues to work with Hennepin County and Minneapolis officials as it finalizes designs, which are expected to be completed by the end of the year. Of course, the public has a big voice in how things turn out, Rindels said, and MnDOT is seeking input and feedback through an online survey open until June 30.

"We are building something in 2027," Rindels said. "We are listening to the public. We want to know what you think."

Happy anniversary to the Blue and Green lines

The Blue Line turns 20 this month and the Green Line turns 10. Metro Transit will mark the occasion with a celebration featuring lawn games, music and giveaways from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Target Field Station. Dignitaries will speak at 5:30 p.m.

The light-rail lines together have provided 279.7 million rides through April. The Blue Line runs from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America, the Green Line between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.