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Permanent bus lanes coming to parts of Minneapolis

Updated: July 16, 2019 06:53 PM

Bus only lanes are permanently coming to stretches of Hennepin and Chicago Avenues in Minneapolis. 

The City and Metro Transit is also testing out a similar pilot program along part of Nicollet Avenue.

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The permanent bus lanes will be added to Hennepin Avenue, between Franklin Avenue and Lake Street, and on southbound Chicago Avenue, from E. 28th Street to the Chicago/Lake Transit Center. The piloted lanes will be on Nicollet Avenue, from Lake Street to Franklin Avenue.

Bus drivers and riders like it because it helps keep routes on time. But some drivers and business owners aren't happy because the lanes take up parking spaces.

Last year, the city tested this out on Hennepin Avenue, and overall, city officials said the feedback was positive. The pilot program lasted for only three days, but it was enough time for them to figure out that it's something that should be used more going forward.

RELATED: Bus Lane Pilot Program Begins on Hennepin Avenue

"There's lots of buses carrying lots of people and they're having challenges meeting their schedule times," said Allan Klugman, traffic engineer with the City of Minneapolis. 

The City of Minneapolis and Metro Transit said they're focusing on highly congested areas. 

"More than anything bus lanes are going to give riders a more consistent trip," said Michael Mechtenberg, with Metro Transit. 

Depending on on the time of day, permanent bus lanes are going on Hennepin between Franklin and Lake Street. They will also go on Chicago Avenue southbound from 28th Street East to the Chicago/Lake transit center.

The partnership is also exploring similar changes to Nicollet Avenue between Franklin and Lake, but just as a pilot program.

"I do believe it will affect business negatively because we are in a situation where people want to be in and out," said Joseph Howard, manager at Glam Doll Donuts. 

Howard said the bus lane idea doesn't necessarily please some businesses because it could mean a loss in parking spaces during parts of the day.

"People's time is valuable," Howard said. "It's really important that it's convenient and inconvenience is going to make us lose business."

Klugman stressed many of the bus lanes will only be active during the morning and evening rush.

"We take the parking spaces in the peak hours and assign that to the buses, but for the rest of the day, well over 20 hours, the parking will remain," Klugman said.

Once in place, the lanes will be painted red. City leaders have an interest in one day expanding the idea to North Minneapolis and Northeast.

"We want to make an investment today that can help inform the future roadway design," Mechtenberg said. 

These changes will go into effect in the fall. If you're interested in learning more about how this may impact your commute there is an open house scheduled for July 30th.

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Brett Hoffland

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