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Business owners concerned about 33rd St. reconstruction

Posted on 28 October 2018 by calvin

Will trucks be able to maneuver on a skinnier street with boulevards and curb cutouts?

Business owners are concerned that the city’s plan to reconstruct a two-block section of 33rd St. E. between Hiawatha and Minnehaha doesn’t factor in the street’s heavy industrial traffic.

The plans presented for the project at the Neighborhood Development and Transportation Committee (NDTC) meeting on Oct. 2, would narrow the street significantly, which business owners believe would make it hard for trucks to maneuver.

Photo right: Transportation Planner Forrest Hardy chats with business owners regarding proposed changes to 33rd St. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The street is currently 44 feet across with parking on both sides. One option narrows the street to 38 feet and install five-foot boulevards on both sides. The second option would narrow the street to 32 feet with eight-foot boulevards and allow parking on only one side.

Transportation Planner Forrest Hardy explained that boulevards between the street and the sidewalk provide a better pedestrian experience, and create a place to pile up snow.

When asked how much per square foot a boulevard costs versus a paved street, Hardy did not have an answer. While costs vary from project to project, typically a wider street without a boulevard is more expensive than a narrower street with a boulevard due to increased quantity of pavement and sublease materials, according to city staff.

Business owners stated that they see very few pedestrians walking down 33rd. While there is a gas station at the corner with Hiawatha, they pointed out that there is no crossing and pedestrians need to go up to 32nd or down to 35th to get across Hiawatha.

There are several businesses along that stretch of street, including Castle Building, Lovelette Transfer Moving, McIntosh Embossing, United States Bench Corporation, and R&T Cement. Each of those employ about 10 to 15 people.

Photo left: Business owners are concerned that the city’s plan to reconstruct a two-block section of 33rd St. E. between Hiawatha and Minnehaha doesn’t factor in the street’s heavy industrial traffic. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Dave McIntosh questioned the plan to close one of the two egresses onto his property. He pointed out that more trucks than the ones servicing his print company use the double egress to turn around. This allows trucks to turn on private property rather than try to do that in the street near the railroad tracks.

Businesses owners also questioned the bump-outs planned at corners. Because of the angle that Snelling intersects with 33rd, trucks won’t be able to turn if there are bump-outs, they insisted.

Work planned by 2019
According to Hardy, the city is taking a long-term approach to this project as the life cycle of a street is about 40 years.
The reconstruction of both 33rd and 35th will include removal of the existing street, subgrade correction, curb and gutter, driveways, sidewalks, and utility work as needed. The pavement condition on both streets is rated as poor.

The city will also coordinate with the railroad to improve the crossings. There are about 16 rail crossings per day. The crossing is particularly bad along 35th.

“Right now it is practically impossible to cross the railroad tracks on a wheelchair,” said Hardy. “There is no sidewalk there. It’s just holes.”

The existing right-of-way on the streets is 60 feet wide, and existing sidewalks are 6.5 feet wide. Pedestrian ramps are not generally ADA-compliant.

In the plan for 35th between Hiawatha and Dight Ave., the street will be narrowed to 38 feet. There will be a left turn lane, through lane and right turn lane off 35th onto Hiawatha. One drive­way on the north side, currently blocked off, will be closed.

The reconstruction project will take place during the 2019 construction season, and will cost about 2.865 million. The city will maintain access to businesses while the work is done, Hardy assured.

A recommended layout is expected to be brought to the City Council Transportation and Public Works Committee in late fall 2018 for approval.

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