More of Maryland to undergo 4-to-3 lane conversion

Another section of Maryland Avenue will be studied this summer and fall as it’s reduced from four lanes to three.

According to Ramsey County, Maryland Avenue between Payne Avenue and Arkwright Street will have it’s lanes reduced from two in both directions to singles lanes, along with a center turn lane, beginning in August. 

A section of Maryland Avenue between Payne Avenue and Johnson Parkway was tested in 2017 and permanently restriped in 2018 to the fewer lane configuration.

The goal of four-to-three lane conversions is to slow down traffic, make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road and to reduce accidents, especially those that happen as drivers make left turns. 

County engineers found during the initial testing of the previous conversion in the late summer and fall of 2017 that traffic speeds on Maryland were reduced by 3 to 4 mph and that providing a marked center turn lane helped reduce left-turn crashes. 

Part of the test also involved installing medians at Greenbrier and Duluth streets to providing a halfway spot for pedestrians crossing the road and to prevent left turns onto Maryland Avenue from those streets.

Much of the work was jumpstarted by the community after a mother was killed in the spring of 2016 on Maryland Avenue at Greenbrier crossing the street after dropping her kids off at a bus stop.

Four-to-three lane conversions are backed by the county’s All-Abilities Transportation Network plan, which was approved by the county board in December 2016. The county is planning to convert most of its four-lane roads to three lanes, including other East Side arteries like McKnight Road. 

The plan serves to guide Ramsey County transportation projects by providing a checklist that engineers use to gauge the equity of transportation projects, and by giving higher priority to pedestrians and bicyclists. 

 

Familiar process

In line with the previous project, Maryland Avenue will be temporarily reduced from four to three lanes in August, between Payne Avenue and Arkwright Street. 

The temporary setup will last through November. During that time, Ramsey County engineers will collect data on speeds and crashes and use it to determine whether the corridor can work with three lanes. 

This particular stretch of Maryland Avenue differs from the stretch converted to three lanes mainly in terms of traffic counts. Its proximity to Interstate 35E means more drivers pass through it on a daily basis, according to Minnesota Department of Transportation data. 

Average traffic counts on Maryland between Payne Avenue and I-35E vary from 22,000 vehicles to nearly 29,000 vehicles per day. East of Payne Avenue, traffic counts drop to anywhere from 20,000 to 15,000 vehicles per day. 

 

Community knows best

With the other conversion in mind, neighbors suggested the section be evaluated after the county began initial plans to reconstruct Maryland between Edgerton and Clark streets. 

The county planned to widen Maryland through that area because the lane sizes do not meet federal standards. Neighbors expressed concerns that wider lanes would encourage drivers to speed even more than they already do. 

Other parts of the planned reconstruction include improvements at the Maryland and Edgerton intersection such as adding left turn lanes, replacing the traffic signal and adding an audible pedestrian system. Sidewalks, curbs and curb ramps will be replaced to make the corridor ADA-compliant. City water and sewer infrastructure will also be updated. 

The data collected later this summer and fall from the temporary lane changes will determine whether the corridor will be permanently changed to three lanes during the reconstruction work, which is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring for 2020. 

Project manager Rachel Broughton said a community meeting about the four-to-three lane conversion will be held Wednesday, July 31, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Arlington Hills Community Center, 1200 Payne Ave. The meeting will include a walking tour at 5 p.m., an open house at 6 p.m. and a presentation at 6:30 p.m.

More information about the conversion can be found at www.ramseycounty.us/marylandlaneconversion. The county is also collecting feedback about the project, which can be submitted to the above website or by contacting Broughton at rachel.broughton@ramseycounty.us, or by calling 651-266-7140.

 

–Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com.

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