What's Broken Downtown

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July 14, 2003 // UPDATED 10:58 am - April 30, 2007
By: April Wooster
April Wooster

Jaywalk or feel like a doofus

To cross or not to cross the street: that question daily faces pedestrians on the east side of Marquette Avenue who want to get across 7th Street.

Northbound traffic on Marquette has a green left-turn arrow, but pedestrians on the right (east) side of Marquette who want to cross 7th are confronted with a red hand -- even though no traffic crosses their crosswalk.

This lack of coordination between left-turn signals and pedestrian lights seems to be a Downtown trend, according to resident Paul Barber.

Sara Dietrich of the city's communications department said the traffic control system is not broken, it's just old. Some Downtown traffic controllers are 40 years old or more and have limited programming options, Dietrich said. Under the older traffic systems, two traffic lights on opposite sides of the same street cannot flash different signals to pedestrians. While walkers on Marquette's west side must be told not to cross due to left-turning traffic in front of them, the traffic controller cannot send a different message to pedestrians on the parallel east side.

A new controller and new wiring could solve the issue at intersections such as Marquette and 7th, but it costs roughly $25,000 for a replacement. While public works is currently replacing old controllers, it's a slower process than some might like due to city budget and staff constraints, Dietrich said.

See something Downtown that's broken? Let us know and we'll get on the case! E-mail your entries, titled "What's Broken," to dbrauer@skywaynews.net. You can also fax entries to 825-0929, or mail them to 1115 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 55403.