Glenhill Rd. and Snelling Ave. frequently asked questions
Why are you changing this intersection?
MnDOT is making this change because we have seen an increase in vehicles making illegal u-turns at Glenhill Rd. since the median closure at Hamline Ave. in 2019. There is no left turn lane from southbound Snelling Ave. to Glenhill Rd. As a result, motorists must slow down in the left lane of southbound Snelling Ave., which can result in high-speed, rear-end crashes. Reducing access at Glenhill Rd. also eliminates the most severe conflict points with other vehicles, which occur when a left-turning vehicle is struck broadside while crossing fast-moving traffic at an uncontrolled intersection. Reducing conflict points at intersections is a statewide strategy with proven success in reducing fatalities and serious injury crashes.
Is this temporary or permanent?
The change is permanent. We are making these types of median changes on all higher-speed, divided highways to help reduce the number of fatal and serious injury crashes. We are installing fiberglass posts called bollards this fall, which will be replaced with a concrete median in 2022 when cable barrier will be installed in the median from Co. Rd. C to I-694.
Are there that many illegal U-turns on Snelling Ave.? Is this even necessary?
Safety is our number one priority. Any time a vehicle slows down in the left lane on a high-speed road to make a u-turn, there is a safety hazard, regardless of how often it happens. We must consider the potential severity of any crash in a case like this, not just the amount of crashes that could potentially occur.
This is the first I’ve heard of this. Were there any meetings about this?
We hosted a virtual open house for the Snelling Ave. and Hamline Ave. Intersection Safety Improvement Project on May 19, 2020. We focused primarily on the closure at Snelling Ave. and Hamline Ave. at the open house. While we did present and discuss the Glenhill Rd. at that meeting, we did not include the changes at Glenhill Rd. in our written communications materials in advance of the meeting. We recognize that this inadvertently decreased the opportunity for Glenhill Rd. residents to learn about the change.
Aren’t traffic levels down because of the pandemic? Are there even enough cars on the road to make this necessary?
It’s true, there are fewer vehicles on the road due to the pandemic. Traffic volumes in the Twin Cities metro area this September have been hovering around 10 percent less than traffic volumes in September 2019. However, traffic volumes on Snelling Ave. during the afternoon are nearly back to normal levels.
This is our neighborhood’s only direct access to northbound Snelling. Is this legal? Does the community get to vote on this change?
We recognize the inconvenience that this closure causes adjacent residents. Approximately 30,000 vehicles travel this segment of Snelling Ave. each day. It is our goal to ensure the safety of all road users and residents, while balancing overall safety with mobility. Closing the median is a traffic regulating safety measure, which is legal under Minnesota Statutes Section 161.163, Subdivision 2.
What about school buses? Are they going to have to perform u-turns on their routes now?
We contacted the Mounds View school district transportation staff and alerted them to the change. The school’s buses are generally routed to avoid left turns onto Snelling Ave. due to safety concerns. Mounds View will reroute buses as necessary toward Lydia Ave., which may include u-turns on Lydia Ave, or traveling east on Lydia Ave. and turning north on Hamline Ave.
Are you going to reduce the speed limit on Snelling Ave.?
We are not planning a change in the speed limit on Snelling Ave. In many cases, posting a lower speed limit creates a greater speed variance between the slowest- and fastest-moving vehicles. A greater speed variance, also called “speed differential,” contributes to crashes and makes the road less safe. In addition, studies show there is little change in speed patterns after posting a lower speed limit.
Won’t this just increase the total number of lane changes and u-turns on Snelling Ave.?
This change is intended to physically prevent all u-turns from southbound Snelling Ave. to northbound Snelling Ave. at Glenhill Rd. The next available intersection, at Lydia Ave., is safer because it has a left turn lane and is controlled by a traffic signal. Drivers making u-turns at a traffic signal are at much lower risk of rear-end crashes or collisions with on-coming traffic than drivers who make u-turns at a median with no left turn lane and no signal.
Now, if I want to go north, I’ll need to cross all lanes of traffic and make a U-turn to travel northbound on Snelling Ave. Is that really safer?
Currently, motorists on Glenhill Rd. must cross all lanes of southbound Snelling Ave., while perpendicular to oncoming traffic, and turn left to access northbound Snelling Ave. Additionally, once they reach the median, motorists may then encounter southbound vehicles making illegal u-turns and northbound vehicles turning left onto Glenhill Rd. Reducing access in the median reduces the potential for severe crashes by eliminating these multiple conflict points. The safer alternative for Glenhill Rd. motorists is to turn right, move left one lane at a time and then complete the u-turn at an intersection with a dedicated left turn lane and a signal that controls oncoming traffic.
Will this affect access for emergency vehicles?
We contacted local emergency medical services professionals in advance of making these changes. They expressed concern for the safety of drivers currently making illegal u-turns at Glenhill Rd. Emergency responders use GIS routing software to respond to calls. Changes in access at Glenhill Rd. and Snelling Ave. have been shared with Ramsey County administrators to ensure that EMS routing is based on current information.
I’m really unhappy about this. What can I do?
We recognize the inconvenience this causes residents who use Glenhill Rd. to access Snelling Ave. MnDOT’s ombudsman office is working with residents to address these concerns.