HWY 7 and Louisiana Ave: Diamonds and Roundabouts

4 Apr

By Marshall Thompson

Many changes are coming to Highway 7 in the near future. Over the summer construction will begin on a new bridge at the intersection of Highway 7 and Wooddale. During construction Minnetonka and Excelsior boulevards will be highly used alternate routes. This project is targeted as a “shovel ready” project as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (aka the stimulus package).

A bigger impact for the South Oak Hill neighborhood will come in the Spring of 2001, when construction begins on a bridge at Highway 7 and Louisiana. We are still in the very early phases of this project; there are six preliminary designs that will be narrowed to three in the next couple of months. An open house was held in January, soliciting comments from the public on the six proposed plans.

In the coming months, engineers and planners will narrow the choices to three, and in late June a second open house will be held to solicit more comments. Of the current six choices, four of them include roundabouts, one is what we’d consider a standard intersection, what officials call a “tight diamond” interchange, and one is a “single-point diamond.”

Roundabouts have been a point of debate in recent years as their popularity has increased. Advocates point to lower accident rates and better energy efficiency. The opposition suggests that they are more difficult for bikers and pedestrians to navigate and if people aren’t used to them actually cause more accidents.

It’s important to note here that roundabouts were also included in the Wooddale project, but after further analysis and comment, a standard tight diamond interchange was deemed the best option.

An intriguing option is a single point diamond, where there would actually be one intersection under the new Highway 7 bridge. The nearest example of this is at the intersection of Highways 100 and 55. Other examples include the intersection of Penn Avenue and Highway 494 and Hansen Boulevard and Highway 10.

For more informaiton, to view the timeline or other proposals, or to contact project managers to comment on the proposed plans, go to http://www.stlouispark.org/construction_updates.htm.

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