Last summer, Hennepin County re-striped Lyndale Avenue, between Franklin Ave and 31st Street to improve the safety conditions for all users of the road. In this area, Lyndale used to be a four-lane road. It now operates as two-lane road with a turn lane at some intersections. This "4-3 lane" re-striping is a pilot program. The pedestrian crossings that were installed at 25th and 27th Streets in May 2022 will be a permanent fixture on Lyndale, according to the project manager, Josh Potter.

The county is now wrapping up its community feedback regarding the Lyndale Avenue pilot with a series of focus groups, both in-person and virtually. There are two more focus groups scheduled on March 3 virtually and on March 4 in-person at Karmel Mall for Somali speakers.

The county has also been collecting traffic data along Lyndale and parallel streets, such as Blaisdell, to see how the re-striping has impacted traffic flow. According to Potter, the City of Minneapolis adjusted Lyndale Ave. traffic light timing incrementally to help alleviate some of the traffic flow backups that happened early on in the pilot.

The focus group held on February 28 at Walker Library was sparsely attended but the attendees shared overwhelmingly positive experiences utilizing Lyndale Avenue in its current form.

Two attendees both mentioned enjoying their time outside of Fire and Nice Alehouse at 27th and Lyndale after the street was re-striped. Because focus groups are not typically open to reporters I am not naming the participants.

“I almost cried,” a participant said, as they described crossing the street safely for the first time at the 27th Street intersection. Prior to the intersection change they had felt like crossing the street was a “life or death” situation. “Scary” was an adjective used by an attendee to describe Lyndale before the traffic calming was put into place.

Another participant described cheering for people as they crossed the street as drivers stopped for pedestrians at the 27th intersection.

This stretch of Lyndale Avenue is one of the most dangerous in the state. Because the community has been so outspoken about the dangers of this street, the county implemented a safety pilot, Potter explained to the group on Tuesday.

“Generally the county doesn’t do that,” Potter said during the focus group session.

Potter also told the group that the county is aware of the u-turns happening at the 25th and 27th Street intersections. The project team is looking into what an “effective length” is at the medians to stop the u-turns from happening. A left-turn signal at 26th Street is also being considered. Due to the single lane of traffic on Lyndale, finding gaps in traffic to turn left is now more difficult for vehicles.

Potter said the data that Hennepin County is collecting will be made available to the public. The timing and format of the data presentation is not yet known. Data collection ends in March.