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Three Downtown Duluth avenues will switch to two-way traffic

Three avenues in Downtown Duluth will convert from one-way to two-way traffic as part of the city’s plans to improve transit and access to businesses. The changes will be made to First, Second and Third avenues west from Superior Street to Fourth Street and intersections between Lake Avenue and Fourth Avenue West.

Field work on the changes will begin Monday, July 17, and should be complete by the end of the week.

The three avenues involved are not to be confused with three major downtown streets. First, Second and Third streets will continue to have one-way traffic.

A news release from Duluth’s Communications Office notes the changes to the avenues “will ease access and allow more direct connections to downtown businesses with smoother circulation; it will also be a benefit to residences and visitors as the city prepares for the reconstruction of Superior Street in 2018.”

Plans for the conversion were introduced this past winter and approved by the Duluth City Council with a planned approach in multiple stages. The work will involve signage changes, center line striping and covering four traffic signals and installing stop signs in their place.

The four intersections where stop signs will replace traffic signals are:

  • First Street and First Avenue West – the traffic signal will be covered and stop signs will be installed on both the avenue and street (all-way stop condition).
  • First Street and Second Avenue West – the traffic signal will be covered and stop signs will be installed on the avenue only.
  • First Street and Third Avenue West – the traffic signal will be covered and stop signs will be installed on both the avenue and street (all-way stop condition).
  • Third Street and Second Avenue West – the traffic signal will be covered and stop signs will be installed on the avenue only.

City crews will start on Third Avenue West, move to Second and then to First. Each avenue will be completely closed during the conversion, but the intersections will remain open for street traffic to continue to flow. During the conversion process, there will be no access to street parking on that particular avenue. Each avenue conversion will take approximately 1-2 days, pending good weather conditions.

Several parking spaces will be removed to the east and west of each intersection on Third Street (First, Second and Third avenues west) and the bus stops will also be re-located to the west side of the intersections. This is intended to provide better sight distances for the new direction of travel on the avenues.

The city’s news release reminds the public to pay extra attention for the switches in traffic control at the intersections.

  • Motorists should remember that a crosswalk exists at every intersection regardless of whether it is marked or unmarked. Scan the road for pedestrians and bicyclists, especially when turning onto the one-way streets. Stop for crossing pedestrians in a crosswalk. Never pass or go around a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.
  • Pedestrians should make eye contact with drivers before crossing. Clearly show your intentions of crossing. Ensure you have an adequate gap in traffic before proceeding. Stay off cell phones while crossing.

A survey will be shared with the public after the conversion commences to collect public input and insight. Questions about the project can be directed to Taryn Erickson at tjerickson @ duluthmn.gov or by calling 218-730-5087.

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