What does it take to get a new stop sign in this town?
It hasn’t happened yet, and perhaps it’s debatable whether it’s the solution, but here’s what people have tried, at 13th Avenue and 3rd Street NE, where Maeve’s and The Anchor recently opened, across from New City School:
Write detailed emails about near-accidents and stating your observations about the intersection. If that doesn’t work, offer to pay for a sign. Some would escalate their tone or sarcasm, though one can’t be sure if the words and tone are consistent—it is, after all, email.
Or, go online and request at www.minneapolismn.gov/publicworks/traffic/traffic_traffic-sign. You’ll be given a case number and the automated response says you will hear something by a certain date: The Northeaster tried the system Sept. 12 and was told to expect a response by 12/12/12 (three months).
Opportunities are coming, to talk about it in person. Third Ward Minneapolis Council Member Diane Hofstede wrote in an email to about 20 neighbors:
Thank you for your engagement and emails regarding this issue. In April, I established a work group to discuss a wide variety of traffic concerns. Included in the discussion, were the stop signs in this location. Other broad issues included speed, lighting, and general traffic calming concerns in the Northeast and Southeast areas. We have had three work group meetings with community members, our 2nd Police Precinct Inspector, State of Minnesota Department of Transportation Members, and the City of Minneapolis Transportation Department. We discussed the stop signs, other traffic related concerns, and possible solutions. A variety of ideas and solutions have been reviewed, each with pros and cons.
At the Sept. 19 Third Ward CARE community meeting [at Eastside Neighborhood Services, 1700 Second St. NE, 7 p.m.] we will have a report from our Traffic Work Group, discussion, and recommendations from our work group. We welcome your participation and involvement.
In addition, on Sept. 27 from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., at Eastside Neighborhood Services, I will be conducting a meeting to discuss the noise, traffic, and safety concerns around 4th Street from 13th Avenue up to 15th Avenue with our Minneapolis Transportation staff and our community. I welcome your participation in the discussion.
Sheridan Neighborhood Organization president Jenny Fortman said, “I have heard this concern from quite a few people lately. In fact, I have seen people very confused at that intersection and many stop as though it is a four-way stop already. The increase in cross-traffic is a reasonable case for consideration. The successful opening of previously vacant store fronts and increase in active families in the area means the needs at this intersection have changed. We need the city to support our successes and changing needs.”
Fortman was responding by email to emails from immediate neighbors such as Robert Riskin, who said and his dog were almost run over by someone speeding between University and Second (on Third, between the two, traffic has to stop at 13th, but traffic on 13th does not have to stop).
At the intersection, there are neon-lemon-yellow signs with the pedestrian crossing symbol and an arrow pointing to the crosswalk, which is two painted white lines across the street from corner to corner (all four corners). Approximately a block ahead in each direction, the same symbol signs and the word “ahead” is are posted. Leafy tree branches partially obscure the yellow sign and the stop sign at the southeast corner (traveling north on Third, facing 13th).
Lance Fredrickson lives on the intersection. He wrote, “I would hate for there to be someone hurt badly before something is done. I see horrible driving on that corner all the time—U-turns in the middle of the intersection, parking too close to the curb, people speeding by, people treating it like a 4 way stop when it’s not, and multitudes of close calls because people can’t see past the parked cars. I have a sign in front my house that states do not park within 30 feet of the sign. It happens all the time!”
Jamie Swanson said “I saw a motorist yell at an older woman because she was taking too long to walk across the street on the crosswalk. She was going to The Anchor to meet family for dinner and was really shaken up.”
He added, “I would also like to request a four-way stop at 12th Avenue NE and 3rd Street NE, but I believe that the 13th Avenue intersection should be taken care of first.”
Lonn Koranda apparently did a study or communicated about a traffic study recently in the area. Riskin took issue with the methodology in an email. City staff have not yet responded to Northeaster requests for information, but Hofstede did. She said that there is not consensus on where signs should be.
Drivers often use 13th Avenue to avoid long waits on Broadway, especially at rush hours when traffic is backed up on the Broadway Bridge. That volume is likely to change when the Lowry and Plymouth bridges come back in service.
Between Monroe Street and Marshall Street, the two major streets that bookend 13th Avenue’s through traffic, seven intersections have lights or all-way stops, and seven have two-way, favoring through traffic on 13th.
The city’s website “FAQs” say that requests for traffic calming devices are referred to the Transportation division of Public Works. They study the situation and report if changes to the current engineering are or are not recommended.
“Their recommendations are based on well-established standards that measure traffic volume, speed, and accidents, as well as pedestrian volume. In most situations, no changes are recommended. In other situations, the solution may require neighborhood funding.”
“Stop sign installation, in addition to the standards used, is based on a city ordinance —the Minneapolis Stop Sign Policy. Under this policy, there is a plan for the entire City and the ordinance does not allow for exceptions.” The Northeaster tried unsuccessfully to find the policy on the city website and in the Minneapolis Code of Ordinances.
In the first quarter of 2012 in Northeast, stop signs were added stopping eastbound and west bound at 19th Avenue NE and 4th, (removed from 4th and 20th), and added stopping southbound Sixth Avenue NE at Main Street NE.