Hennepin and 1st avenues switch to two-way streets in October

For the first time in nearly 30 years, two of Downtowns most heavily traveled streets will carry two-way traffic, making them even more accessible, vibrant "main streets" for Minneapolis. Weather permitting, Hennepin and 1st avenues between 1st Street and 12th Street will switch to two-way on Oct. 10. The conversion of Hennepin and 1st avenues from one-way to two-way streets will dramatically reshape how people get around Downtown, and it will have benefits for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and businesses in the area.

Depiction of Hennepin Avenue after the two-way conversion

The conversion means many drivers will be able to get more directly to their destinations, because two-way streets decrease the need for "around the block" trips drivers experience with one-ways. Having Hennepin and First as two-way streets will mean that traffic will move at reduced speeds at times. However, drivers will have better, more direct access to the businesses and entertainment along these streets.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will see important enhancements. New traffic signals will include pedestrian countdown timers, and bike lanes on 1st Avenue, shared bus/bike/right turn lanes on Hennepin Avenue, and new "bike boxes" will make bicycling more efficient and attractive to commuters.

To prepare for the conversion, Minneapolis Public Works crews have seal coated the street, installed new traffic signals, and made some changes to the street layout in two areas. In the early morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 10, 1st Avenue will close to traffic and City crews will start re-signing and re-striping that street. Hennepin Avenue will also be re-striped and re-signed on that day, but it will remain open to traffic during this work. Both streets should open to two-way traffic by the evening hours.

These two-way conversions are components of a much larger plan that is transforming how people get into and around Downtown. Other improvements becoming a reality in 2009 include the completion of the Marquette and 2nd avenues transit corridors, the opening of Northstar Commuter Rail, and an extension of the Hiawatha Light Rail line. These and other improvements coming soon will result in a Downtown that’s more accessible, greener, and easier to get around.

Published Sep 23, 2009