Hennepin Ave redesign fails to secure 24/7 bus lanes

A contentious aspect that held up the redesign of Hennepin Avenue through Uptown Minneapolis has come to an agreement. 

The Minneapolis City Council previously voted to pass the redesign and reconstruction plan for one of the city's busiest streets – including proposals that would cut vehicle lanes down to two, add 24/7 dedicated bus lanes, and two-way protected bike lanes between Lake Street and Franklin Avenue.

However, the 24/7 dedicated bus lanes previously held up the project.

In June, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey sent a letter to council members informing them he had vetoed a resolution and directed the City Engineer to establish parking restrictions on Hennepin Ave S between Douglas Ave and W Lake St per the City Council approved layout – necessary for the bus lanes. 

Taken up during its June 30 meeting, the council then failed to secure a two-thirds veto override by a vote of 8-3. 

During the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee hearing Thursday, the committee passed the previously approved redesign of Hennepin Avenue, which will now include a dedicated lane for buses that's enforced for a minimum of six hours a day as dedicated to "transit priority."

Council president Andrew Johnson noted that the agreement amounts to a compromise between the council and mayor’s goals.

As the dissenting vote, council member Robin Wonsley said, "compromise usually means that both sides have made concessions… and it’s unclear who has made concessions really beyond the transit-dependent riders."

"I'm really sorry this is the best outcome we can get in this moment," said council member Aisha Chughtai, a staunch advocate for 24/7 enforcement who ultimately voted in favor of the agreement. 

If implemented, the design will also leave behind approximately 20 parking spots, for which businesses along the street have been fighting.

The plan will now go to the full city council for approval.