09/27/10

The Final Link Connecting Minneapolis and St. PaulThe Final Link Connecting Minneapolis and St. Paul

 

Currently, bicycling westbound along the Marshall Avenue near the Mississippi River can be risky.  Not only does the dedicated bike lane stop at Cretin Avenue, but the area also is made dangerous by the steep hill right before the bridge over the Mississippi River. While bicyclists are entitled by Minnesota statute to take the full lane, cars are moving fast down the hill and there is not any reminder to drivers to give bicyclists right of way. With funds provided by Bike Walk Twin Cities, the City of Saint Paul will help alleviate safety concerns and create a more livable community by providing:

 

  • On-street bike lanes
  • "Share The Road" signs
  • New sidewalks
  • Countdown pedestrian timers
  • Dynamic speed display sign for eastbound traffic
  • Planted medians
  • Bus shelter and lighting system improvements
  • New Bicycle racks at one or more business nodes

 

In St. Paul, bicycle and pedestrian facilities currently exist on Marshall Avenue between Cretin and Snelling. On the other side of the river in Minneapolis, pedestrian facilities exist on Lake St and bicycle facilities exist on the West River Road. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities also exist on the bridge over the Mississippi River.

However, no on-street bicycle facilities exist between Cretin Avenue and the Lake St Bridge that take into account the high volume of traffic and the posted speed limit of 35 MPH.

This project would provide a complete bicycle connection and an improved pedestrian connection to Minneapolis from St. Paul on Marshall Avenue by providing on-street bike lanes in both directions, a "Bikes take full lane" sign by the Cretin/Marshall intersection, and new sidewalks.

 

Adding sidewalks is an important step in closing a gap in the pedestrian infrastructure system that exists in St. Paul on the north side of Marshall Avenue between Otis and Cretin. Currently, there is a "cow path" along the westbound side of Marshall between the bus stops at Cretin, Montrose, and Otis. Adding sidewalks eliminates the need for pedestrians to put themselves in the same road space as a vehicle, and therefore making the area safer for all types of traffic.

 

However, on the north side of Marshall Ave, boulevard trees will need to be removed in order for Marshall to be widened for eastbound bicycle lanes and the installation of a new curb and gutter. It is important to note that all trees will be replaced following the instillation of the new sidewalk.

 

Not only will the improvements create a safer environment for bicyclists and pedestrians on Marshall Avenue, they will complete connections with several other major bike-ways in the Twin Cities. The area is close to Pelham Boulevard, which is the terminus of the Como Bikeway project. The Como Bikeway project is also part of the St. Paul Grand Round. The Grand Round winds its way through St. Paul and terminates at Indian Mounds Regional Park. Moreover, by connecting, via the bridge, to existing facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians on West River Road, the project will connect to the Minneapolis Grand Round and the Midtown Greenway.

 

For this project, both technical and nontechnical tools are being used together. While not necessarily innovative, these techniques will yield a significant impact that will be seen and felt by all users of the Marshall corridor.