Snelling May Never Be the Same
Monday, April 17, 2017 10:10 PM

snelling_concept.jpg
A concept for a redesigned Snelling, looking south from Energy Park Drive toward Pierce Butler Route

MnDOT unveiled its “final preliminary plan” April 24 that would make Snelling Ave. seem less like a freeway and, instead, make walking and bicycling safer and less intimidating. The proposals cover the long stretch between Midway Parkway south to Hamline University. That stretch includes the bridges over Pierce Butler Route, Energy Park Drive, and Como Ave.

The proposal, revised after months of public input, would:

  • Eliminate the current freeway-style "acceleration" or "merge" lanes from Pierce Butler and Energy Park.
  • Replace those traffic lanes with protected bicycle lanes and wider sidewalks. These would extend from Pierce Butler on the south and Como Ave. on the north. Sidewalks generally would be 6-feet wide on each side of Snelling. The adjacent bike path, also on each side of Snelling, generally would be 7-feet wide. The bike paths and sidewalks would be separated from traffic by a 6-foot-wide concrete island with a curb height of 8 inches.
  • Connect the off-road bike trail with existing on-road bike lanes on Como Ave. on the north.
  • Add in-street bike lanes, with a painted buffer, on Snelling between Energy Park and Hewitt Ave.
  • Add a sidewalk on the east side of Snelling from Como Ave. north to Midway Parkway.
  • Keep the ramps that connect Snelling with Pierce Butler and Energy Park, but use stoplights (instead of the existing merge lanes) to regulate vehicle traffic entering and exiting Snelling.
  • Add a multiuse path along the ramps so pedestrians and cyclists could more easily get between Snelling and Energy Park or Pierce Butler.
  • Create a bus stop bay on Snelling at Energy Park Drive.
  • Possibly reduce and standardize the speed limit along Snelling between Larpenteur and Hewitt, which now goes as high as 45 mph before reducing to 30 mph at the south end of the project.

Making Snelling more inviting and safer for pedestrians and cyclists is crucial, says MnDOT engineer Mark Lindeberg, because there is no other north-south connection for at least a mile in either direction. The protected bike path and wider sidewalk, separated from traffic lanes, should do that, he says.

Adding stoplights for northbound and southbound traffic at Pierce Butler and Energy Park will make those connections seem more like a normal urban intersection, he says. That should make them safer for all modes of travel, including trucks, when compared with the current freeway-style ramps and merge lanes.

The new proposal currently does not have funding, Lindeberg says, so it's unclear when it would move forward. But the proposal does have the advantage of requiring only redecking – not replacing – the existing network of 10 bridges, he says, which are expected to remain functional for 15-20 more years. Some engineering details, such as drainage and snow removal, also need to be finalized.

You can get an overview at MnDOT’s project website. Conceptual drawings, maps, and other details are supposed to be posted soon.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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