Interest in pedestrian and bicycle travel for recreation, routine trips, and commuting is growing within the Twin Cities region and Ramsey County. Area cities and the County have been actively planning and constructing improved trails, sidewalks, and on-street bikeways. However, despite the growing network of non motorized facilities in the area, I-694 is a barrier for pedestrian and bicycle mobility. Many existing crossings of I-694 carry high volumes of vehicular traffic and some lack adequate facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists. Crossings that do include a suitable trail or sidewalk may be too far out of the way for some users to be considered a convenient walking or biking route.
Additional safety concerns
The challenges of moving pedestrians and bicyclists across freeways, as described above, are not unique to I-694 through Ramsey County. The need for a study in this particular location was identified in 2011 by the City of Arden Hills as plans were developed for a reconstructed interchange at I-694, Hwy 10 and Hwy 51. This project generated extensive discussion about how to move pedestrians and bicyclists across I-694 near Hwy 51.
Key work tasks included:
- Data collection and GIS mapping of existing and proposed pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure within the study area
- Analysis of local comprehensive plans, policies, and other studies of pedestrian and bicycle mobility
- One public meeting to get input on pedestrian and bicycle destinations, needs, and barriers within the study area
- Meetings with local pedestrian and bicycle groups
- Identification of future planned and programmed street, highway, and trail projects in the study area
- Incorporation of mapping from Metropolitan Council’s Bicycle System Study
- Documentation of study recommendations in the final report
This study is not associated with implementation dollars or a specific transportation project that can be used to implement study findings. The study is intended to be a tool to guide future decisions as transportation projects are planned and developed by all units of government within the study area. It can also be used to help local governments prioritize projects for grant applications and capital programs.
The study provided information for the Metropolitan Council’s Bicycle System Study, completed in 2014, in close coordination with MnDOT. It also informed the recently drafted Ramsey Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Finally, the I-694 study can serve as a model for local planners in other parts of the region where interstates and other arterial corridors create challenges for pedestrian and bicycle access.