Stay in the Loop

Pedestrian Improvements Added To Washington Ave, More Coming

This past week, crews from the city of Minneapolis added “pedestrian refuges” to two high-traffic areas of Washington Avenue, designed to make it safer for people to cross at 8th and 7th Avenues.

Pedestrians can now cross Washington Avenue halfway when the lane closest to them is clear, and then wait in the refuge until traffic clears in the other direction, as city council member Michael Rainville explained in this video shown at our annual meeting.

Rainville is also pushing for city funding to install flashing pedestrian signals at both intersections as part of a second phase.

The new refuge near the tunnel (photo above) did wipe out the left turn lane onto 7th for northbound drivers–although they can still make a left turn. Rainville said Public Works officials decided to put it there to line up with the part of the sidewalk that is bumped out, closer to the street with ADA ramps.

Council member Rainville at right taking notes

Meanwhile, he walked the neighborhood with concerned residents Saturday to look at more areas where stop signs and crosswalk markings could possibly be added–particularly along 6th Avenue North.

“Walking here with the neighborhood group, it’s very clear that the infrastructure in place was designed for an industrial, warehouse, commercial area,” Rainville said. “So the mind shift we have to have on the city council is to respect the fact that it is now a residential and entertainment district.”

Rainville praised the level of engagement he sees from North Loop residents.

“The people who live here know better than anybody else what has to be done here to improve it,” he said. “The North Loop Neighborhood Association is the most engaged neighborhood group in the city of Minneapolis.” 

From the feedback he was given during Saturday’s North Loop walkabout, he plans to meet with Public Works officials and see what additional safety measures could be approved.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer

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