The main focus of a proposal to remake Eighth Avenue into a beautified one-way street has so far been on enticing light rail riders and Excelsior Boulevard drivers into Hopkins’ downtown.
But the proposal isn’t just about attracting those who haven’t yet made it into the downtown; it’s about showing off the downtown to those already in or near the area.
Planners estimate a northbound one-way would increase Mainstreet traffic by preventing those headed to Eighth Avenue businesses, like Chipotle or Curry ‘N’ Noodles, from simply turning around and heading back to Excelsior when they’re done.
Just how much would that change Mainstreet volumes? City Engineer John Bradford on Monday shared his estimates with Patch for volumes between 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., the street’s peak hours.
Westbound Mainstreet traffic is expected to grow from 252 vehicles per hour now to 308 vehicles if Eighth Avenue became a one-way street. Eastbound Mainstreet traffic would see an even bigger increase—from 218 vehicles per hour now to 388 per hour after the creation of a one-way.
That doesn’t mean Hopkins drivers would have to endure Minneapolis-style stop-and-go gridlock—far from it. Bradford said traffic counts would have to increase quite a bit more than the estimates before the city would even have to put in additional Mainstreet lanes.
“It’s not even close to needing another lane,” Bradford said.
Hopkins is still several years away from doing anything with Eighth Avenue. Staff will continue exploring the idea further, starting with developing a public participation plan that includes both businesses and residents. They’ll then develop cost estimates, refine concepts and start searching for funding partners.