Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Can Congestion Be A Good Thing?

Dateline: 2:40 pm December 21, 2009 Filed under:


Allow me to explain.

A few years ago the firm I was working for moved to the Banks Building, a renovated warehouse in near northeast Minneapolis. At that time, the primary intersection in the neighborhood, at Hennepin and University Avenues, was flanked by a few businesses, including Surdyk’s liquor store and Kramarczuk’s meat market and deli. Even with these Minneapolis institutions, the area didn’t have critical mass. The businesses were destinations, but not the neighborhood.

Fast forward a couple years, a couple hundred housing units and several new and renovated retail spaces, and the place is hopping. Even within a year of when my firm moved in, my choices for lunch within walking distance increased exponentially. Today, there are several restuarants, Keegans Irish pub, Lunds full service grocery store, and a host of other retail options. Just check out this map to explore the neighborhood for yourself.

The first thing I noticed (sitting on a barstool at Keegans) as new housing was finished and more shops opened was the increase in traffic. Previously traffic breezed through, but now cars queued at traffic signals had to wait two or three cycles to get through the University and Hennepin intersection. Congestion, which was once a rarity, is now the rule at peak times.

But hey, if the cost of a little congestion is an urban neighborhood reaching its potential, then I’ll pay that price any day!

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