4-to-3 Lane Conversions

Traffic-calming measures – including lane reductions on four-lane roadways – are increasing across the United States. These 4-to-3 lane conversions reduce vehicle speed, create safer street crossings and improve the flow of people and vehicles in the community.

The county’s All-Abilities Transportation Network policy accounts for these lane reductions, which are also called “road diets,” as the design prioritizes the most vulnerable users of a transportation system.

Lane reduction study and evaluation criteria

A full evaluation of all undivided four-lane roadways in the county road system is expected to be complete in 2020. The study will look at each road to determine whether a lane reduction would have a positive impact. The evaluation will offer long-term planning guidance for maintenance, funding and reconstruction. Criteria considered during the evaluation will include:

  • Average daily traffic.
  • Traffic speed.
  • Number of pedestrians.
  • Bicycle access.
  • Road width.
  • Right-of-way.
  • Transit and freight operations.
  • Driveways and intersections.
  • Parking.

Bike lanes

Bicyclists are a high priority for road use, but not all four-lane county roads are appropriate for bicycling or identified as designated bike routes in the county’s bicycle plan.

Current and recent lane reduction projects

Larpenteur Avenue, Rice Street and a second segment of Maryland Avenue are currently being evaluated for lane reductions. Community involvement is included in these evaluations.

Maryland Avenue between Payne Avenue and Johnson Parkway was converted from four through lanes to two through lanes with a center turn lane in 2018. Center islands (pedestrian refuges) and marked crosswalks were added as part of the project. This was the first 4-to-3 lane conversion on a county roadway. Community feedback and engineering information was collected about:

  • Traffic speed.
  • Left-turn wait times.
  • Number and type of vehicles.
  • Number of pedestrians.
  • Transit and school bus delays.
  • Freight vehicle use.
  • Driveway access points.