Frequently asked questions
Why is MnDOT doing this study?
Previous studies and community engagement around University and Central avenues, including the 2018 Road Safety Audit, have highlighted safety and accessibility concerns for bicyclists and pedestrians. In addition, there are major freight facilities in the area, and a future bus rapid transit route is also planned. Therefore, a community vision is needed to understand what potential improvements will best serve all users of these roads.
Are there any construction projects already planned for this corridor? Will the study result in any construction projects?
In April and May 2020, MnDOT made safety improvements (crosswalk striping, signal upgrades, and LED lighting) at 18 key intersections on the corridor. There are also improvements to key intersections on both Central Ave. and University Ave. that will occur in 2025 to improve pedestrian safety. Results from this study will inform future planning for potential road improvements by MnDOT, the counties and cities.
What will you do with my feedback?
Feedback from community engagement activities is essential in creating a vision for the corridor and identifying potential improvements. Your feedback will inform MnDOT’s understanding of the problems that corridor users face, decide how potential improvements may be selected, and choose where they could be located. Personal information such as email addresses, home addresses and phone numbers will not be shared with any other agency or sold or given to third party marketers.
Why is this all one study?
The study area includes both University Ave. and Central Avenue because they have many similar characteristics, from their parallel path along the corridor to their speed limits and number of lanes to the number of people biking, walking and driving on them each day. Also, the use of both roads is likely to be affected by major improvements that MnDOT will be making on TH 252 and I-94 to the west, and on I-35W to the east. By studying these major roadways together, MnDOT will have a more comprehensive understanding of overall transportation needs of the study area, and where and what types of improvements will best address those needs.
How will you be able to accurately study the technical aspects when there are fewer vehicles on the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
The project team will be using transportation data that was obtained before Minnesota’s Stay-at-Home order was issued in March 2020. This will include multimodal traffic counts and circulation information, transit ridership and crash history. But the forecasting of future traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle use in the study area may be affected, and many unknowns remain. The study team will do our best to explain assumptions and how pandemic-related changes in transportation and travel patterns could affect trip counting and forecasting, such as increased bicyclists and pedestrians.
Is MnDOT studying any transit in this corridor?
MnDOT, the Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit are exploring the possibility of a bus rapid transit line from downtown Minneapolis to the Northtown mall. This bus route would travel north along Central Ave. in the south portion of the corridor and then move over to University Ave., at 53rd Ave. and continue north to the Northtown Mall, where it would connect with other bus routes. While this BRT service will not be studied in detail as part of the PEL, it could be part of the community vision for future improvements.
How will MnDOT seek community feedback during the COVID-19 pandemic?
With any community engagement, it is crucial to meet people where they are. This same strategy rings true during the current COVID-19 pandemic. We will focus on online engagement opportunities, including a project webpage, virtual public meetings, and social media posts and advertisements. We will also use other methods to reach people and businesses, such as sidewalk decals, mailings, and community radio. We will make special efforts to reach people who are often underrepresented in planning processes. We will do our best to make people aware of the study and offer them convenient and safe ways to give their feedback.