Coming to stretch of Travelers Trail
Upcoming street projects will bring on-street bike lanes to a stretch of Travelers Trail in Burnsville.
The dedicated lanes will striped and marked on the three-quarter-mile stretch of Travelers from Eagle Ridge Drive to Parkwood Drive.
The lanes will connect the wide sidewalks in the Heart of the City to the sidewalks and striped shoulders of Parkwood and 122nd Street to the east, according to a staff report.
The City Council approved the lanes 4-1 as part of a larger vote on $4.35 million in street rehabilitation and reclamation projects in northeast Burnsville. The council approved another $2.6 million in street projects for part of west Burnsville.
The bike lanes sparked debate, with Council Member Cara Schulz opposing them and voting against the northeast projects.
Council Member Dan Kealey also raised concerns, and it appeared the lanes might have to be pulled to secure the needed four-fifths vote ordering the annual street projects. But Kealey ended up voting for the northeast package.
The lanes were proposed in a 2018 multimodal transportation study of Burnsville, Assistant City Engineer John Schmeling said. A future Orange Line bus rapid transit station is slated for the southeast corner of nearby Nicollet Avenue and Highway 13, he noted.
The north side of 13 has a mixed-use trail, but there’s nothing south of 13 except for a narrow city sidewalk, Schmeling said.
Striping and marking the lanes would cost about $15,000, compared with an estimated $750,000 to build a similar length of off-street trail, the report said.
Travelers Trail will be converted from four lanes to three, with a center turn lane, bike lanes in both directions and an 8-foot parking lane on the south side, Schmeling said.
Citing Minneapolis’ experience adding on-street bike lanes, Schulz said she worries about sandwiching them between parking and lanes of traffic. Minneapolis is experiencing accidents and “starting to zero in on, maybe that wasn’t a good idea,” she said.
Kealey said it’s “nerve-wracking” to ride a bike “with traffic flying by you. It feels intimidating and unsafe.”
“I’m a fan of getting bikes off streets and on 10-foot-wide trails,” he said.
A Burnsville biking group is pleased that the city is considering bike needs as it reviews streets for upgrades, Public Works Director Ryan Peterson said.
“The biking community would most definitely want” the Travelers Trail project because it provides dedicated lanes, he said.
The council has already approved an on-street bike lane for Lac Lavon Drive between county roads 42 and 46 that isn’t built yet. People are asking for bike lanes, and it’s expensive to retrofit off-street trails and sidewalks, Peterson said.
“We’ve got this extra (street) width at our disposal,” he said of the Lac Lavon and Travelers Trail projects. “That’s our intent here, to go to a more multimodal, ‘complete streets’ type of system.”
The Lac Lavon lane should be viewed as a test project and not be replicated until the city can evaluate it, Schulz said.
“I get the costs savings, but I don’t agree with the rush,” she said.
Council Member Dan Gustafson said the Travelers Trail lanes will help connect the Heart of the City to the rest of Burnsville. Apartments going into the Heart of the City will add many younger bike riders, and transit-oriented development guidelines being developed for the area will accelerate the trend, he said.
Kealey said the difference in cost between the on-street lanes and the off-street trail convinced him to support the lanes.
Northeast streets targeted for rehabilitation or reclamation this construction season are Travelers Trail, the North Highway 13 Frontage Road, Larc Industrial Boulevard, River Hills Drive, 122nd Street East and Parkwood Drive/12th Avenue.
In west Burnsville south of Highway 13, targeted streets are the Hennen Road area, 141st Street, 143rd Circle, Nicollet Court, the Dakota Place area and the Forest Glen area.