Over the last few years, the city has made minor changes to a noisy and congested part of Johnson Street. That section, from 18th Avenue to Lowry Avenue, has gotten painted crosswalks, intersection center islands, and dedicated left turn lanes, but because of the ever-increasing volume of northbound traffic that empties from the I-35W exit, more extensive alterations are called for. At a recent open house at the Northeast Recreation Center, residents got a chance to see a number of proposal elements that the city’s Transportation Engineering and Design staff will be considering.
More than 18,000 vehicles a day enter the Johnson/18th Avenue intersection, and by six blocks north, only 3,000 have entered the surrounding neighborhood. With the likelihood that this level of traffic continues, the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and public transportation becomes a priority. Also, the Johnson Street roadway and pavement are aging, and repair and maintenance is no longer cost-effective.
More than a dozen presentation boards and a like number of staff members were on hand at the June 3 meeting. Visitors were encouraged to add their suggestions and questions to the boards, some of which were covered with Post-it notes and colored dots by the end.
The person in charge of the reconstruction project is Transportation Planner Caroline Miller. She said, “Nothing is really ‘off the table’ regarding changes, but there are trade-offs in a lot of cases.” The changes being considered include new signage and pavement markings, ADA pedestrian ramps, curb extensions, and the reduction or elimination of street parking. Also, the sidewalks could be extended out to form “pinch points” to slow speeding cars. There is the possibility of shifting bicycle lanes to parallel residential streets, and consolidating bus stops that serve 150 riders daily.
Based on community feedback, the Public Works Department will develop “concept alternatives” for a second open house, later this summer. The department will present their preferred concepts to the City Council by the end of this year. The estimated cost for the improvements is $3.9 million.
Below: The City’s graphic also shows how much traffic just passes through, and 150 people board buses daily. City and MNDOT representatives said there are more changes coming as 18th Avenue and Lowry Avenue plans intersect with Johnson as well. (Photos by Mark Peterson)