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Minneapolis gets $20 million grant to improve street safety

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Drivers, bicyclists, scooter riders and pedestrians in Minneapolis can expect to see more protected bikeways, center median refuge islands and roads with fewer travel lanes in the coming years as the city forges ahead with efforts to make its streets safer.

The U.S. Department of Transportation this month awarded Minneapolis a $20 million Safe Streets and Roads for All grant to pay for treatments that city leaders say will go on streets that see the highest percentage of serious and fatal crashes but have not yet received safety upgrades.

Without the grants, these critical safety improvements would have taken years to accomplish, said Public Works Director Margaret Anderson Kelliher. “Serious traffic crashes and deaths are unacceptable and preventable. This investment will make our streets safer for everyone and accelerate our Vision Zero work.”

Vision Zero is Minneapolis’ goal of ending automobile crashes that result in death or serious injuries by 2027, and creating a more livable, walkable and safer community for all.

An average of 150 people suffered life-altering injuries or were killed in traffic crashes annually on Minneapolis streets between 2017 and 2021, city data shows.

To bring that number down, the grant money will allow the city to upgrade traffic signals at 526 intersections. The money also will allow the city to improve crosswalk signing and striping, add flashers at pedestrian crossings, and deploy mobile speed wagons to help reinforce speed limits. Roads with two travel lanes in each direction could be placed on a “road diet,” also known as a 4-to-3 conversion where roads are reconfigured with one travel lane in each direction separated by a shared center turn lane.

More bike lanes separated from traffic, concrete islands in center medians to create shorter crossing distances for pedestrians and better street lighting are among improvements that could be in place by 2029.

“When we invest in our streets, we invest in our neighborhoods and the people and businesses that call them home,” Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement. “We know this funding will help us continue to make improvements to the vitality, connectivity, and accessibility of our city streets.”

Free rides for New Year’s Eve

More than 18,000 New Year’s Eve revelers in the Twin Cities left their car in park last year and took free rides on public transportation to and from their celebrations.

The Miller Lite Free Rides program is back this year. Anybody going to a Dec. 31 party or event — or people who don’t want to be driving that night — can ride any Metro Transit bus or train between 6 p.m. and the end of service without having to pay.

The offer is also good on all Minnesota Valley Transit Authority routes.

Vikings fans riding the Northstar train to the 7:20 p.m. game vs. Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium will need only to pay for the inbound trip. The return trip will be free through the Miller Lite promotion.

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