Hennepin County is planning to reconstruct Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis and is asking the community about a couple of design options. According to our own Sam Newberg, who attended the last community meeting and has some great questions for the County, the County is suggesting traffic will grow at 1% per year on Minnehaha for the next 25+ years.
We’ve been here before. Continued annual growth in traffic is inconsistent with city, state, national and developed world trends in VMT and VMT per capita. And unlike in the case of Washington Avenue, Hennepin County has not provided a traffic analysis to justify the number, at least not on their website. A look at the actual traffic counts on Minnehaha on the section in question shows AADT hit a peak in 2006 or before.
The new Minnehaha, with 10,000 AADT compared to Washington’s 25,000 AADT, will mostly have the same number of thru-lanes as the new Washington Avenue.
Again, many questions are raised: if County traffic projections can incorporate assumptions about how the City wants to grow, why can’t they incorporate City goals about mode shift and bicycle transportation? Hennepin County itself has pledged to reduce county-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Can they do this while planning for the ever-expanding use of the private automobile, especially in the most dense parts of the county were non-auto transportation works best? If Hennepin County is investing tons of money to improve the pedestrian experience, expand TOD and wants to “maximize the potential benefits from the Hiawatha LRT line” through the Minnehaha-Hiawatha project, why would it also invest in more automobile capacity?
How about this: let’s grant that total person-travel in the corridor may increase 20% by 2030. How can we most efficiently accommodate this additional travel while meeting the goals of both County and City to provide a livable community, shift modes, reduce emissions, increase health and provide flexibility for future changes in travel technologies and desires?