BRT is put on hold in Bloomington, Minn.

Construction on another road led to unplanned congestion, prompting officials to push back bus rapid transit plans

November 04, 2011

I-35 W in Bloomington, Minn., was poised to get bus rapid transit (BRT), but this will now be delayed for at least three years after other construction resulted in serious congestion, the Star Tribune reported.

Reconstruction of the mile-long junction of Highway 62 and I-35W, known as the Crosstown Commons, funneled more northbound vehicles onto I-35W between 46th Street and downtown.

The increased traffic slowed buses and resulted in unplanned congestion delays of up to ten minutes.

To avoid compounding the problem, Metro Transit is dropping plans to ramp up BRT on 3I-5W in Bloomington by the end of 2012. They now have their sights on starting full service in 2016.

Steve Elkins, a former Bloomington City Council member now on the Metropolitan Council, said the delay was necessary, albeit frustrating, given the unfinished planning needed to make the busway run smoothly. "We don't want to move forward on this until we can really do it right," he told the Star Tribune.

The BRT system envisioned for I-35W would have frequent all-day service with faster travel times and other amenities. The plan relies on new buses, stations and dedicated transit lanes.

One station now operating on the median at 46th Street and I-35W in Minneapolis is a prototype for future stations. But plans to build a similar station on the median of I-35W at Lake Street could take years because reconstructing the overpass could cost $50 million to $70 million. "With no funding identified, it's hard to say how far away it would be," Brian Kary, freeway operations engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MDOT), told the Star Tribune.

The reconstruction of Crosstown Commons expressway encouraged traffic that had been using major arterial roads to take I-35W instead. Traffic on 35W at Lake Street increased 6% from October of this year compared with October 2010––an additional 5,000 trips a day.

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