Road diet. Lane reconfiguration. Call it what what you want, but a stretch of Third/Fourth Avenue NW will see changes this year.
The Minot City Council approved a plan that will change Third/Fourth Avenue NW between Broadway and 26th Street from four lanes of traffic to one lane in each direction with a center turn lane and outside bike lanes.
It’s the same change that happened last summer on a stretch of 16th Street from Fourth Avenue to Second Avenue.
“That change has worked great,” Traffic Engineer Stephen Joersz said of the 16th Street reconfiguration. “It’s only a short time since July when the change happened, but we haven’t had a reported accident on that section of 16th Street since the change. These changes are about safety.”
Joersz said traffic studies show that between 6,000 and 8,000 vehicles travel on this stretch of Third/Fourth Avenue daily, with the average number of vehicles going down in recent years. Joersz said a three-lane roadway can support up to 18,000 vehicles a day.
“Fourth Avenue has less volume than 16th Street but it has more access points, and that makes it an even stronger candidate for a road diet,” Joersz said.
Data shows that there were 19 vehicle crashes on Fourth Avenue between 16th and 25th Streets from 2017-2021, which is above the critical index. Joersz said there are a lot of left turns on that stretch of road, with four lanes of traffic adding to the number of conflict points. One lane of traffic in each direction and a center turn lane will help ease the number of left-turn accidents, Joersz said.
The intersection of Fourth Avenue and 16th Street saw 26 crashes from 2017-2021, with poor sight distance for left turns contributing to that total. A dedicated left-turn lane will help alleviate some of the sight concerns.
The section of Third/Fourth Avenue was already scheduled to be resurfaced this summer, so it’s a good time to change the layout of the lanes when new striping is installed.
“It’s a big change. It’s a great change,” Council member Carrie Evans said during the meeting. The council voted 6-0 to adopt the plan.