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Author Topic: Minnesota Notes  (Read 119459 times)

TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #600 on: August 26, 2017, 10:26:25 PM »

MN 51 now has a proper standalone end shield at its north terminus rather than the old "JCT I-694/END MN 51 1/2 MILE" advance signs that had been there for decades. I missed the photo of it, unfortunately. Will try again when I go back to the state fair a second time.

TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #601 on: September 01, 2017, 01:33:10 PM »

MN 61 was closed through much of Cook County last night after a truck irreparably damaged one of the inactive railroad bridges in Taconite Harbor. The bridge has been torn down. Much of the urgency was due to the detour following a lot of gravel roads and the holiday traffic surge.

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4321087-update-highway-61-reopened

bschultzy

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #602 on: September 01, 2017, 01:56:15 PM »

Just three randon things I noticed:
1) A square County 25 shield on the new exit ramp off MN 100
2) A Flashing Yellow Arrow U-Turn Signal on MN 7
3) Business Loop 169 is on the new BGSes at the Shakopee Bypass.

I drove on 169 today for what seems like the first time in a long time, and noticed the BL 169 shields. It's also marked at the intersection with CSAH 101 in downtown Shakopee. Has this always been a BL, or is this a new addition?
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TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #603 on: September 01, 2017, 05:01:07 PM »

Just three randon things I noticed:
1) A square County 25 shield on the new exit ramp off MN 100
2) A Flashing Yellow Arrow U-Turn Signal on MN 7
3) Business Loop 169 is on the new BGSes at the Shakopee Bypass.

I drove on 169 today for what seems like the first time in a long time, and noticed the BL 169 shields. It's also marked at the intersection with CSAH 101 in downtown Shakopee. Has this always been a BL, or is this a new addition?

It's a new addition. Officially created in 2015 I think but only signed recently.

TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #604 on: October 04, 2017, 03:56:52 PM »

The five-year closure of MN 210 in Jay Cooke State Park is over, and the road is fully open through the park to MN 23 on Duluth's southwest side.

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #605 on: October 04, 2017, 04:22:34 PM »

I went to check out the MN 371 Nisswa/Pequot Lakes work. The Pequot Lakes bypass is now fully open along with the CR 11 interchange, but there's still a lot of remaining work on the Nisswa section. Overall it's a nice looking route.




Well, it looks like I need to plan a 2018 trip now. My paternal grandfather's family has a condo on Pelican Lake in Breezy Point, and it's been a few years (ok, 13) since I was there last.
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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #606 on: October 08, 2017, 11:34:13 AM »

MnDOT has put out a request for qualification for design-build for the replacement of the 35W Minnesota River bridge with Construction starting in mid-2018:
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/designbuild/i35w-mn-river-bridge/index.html

It's going to be a fun commute for those going from Burnsville, Lakeville, Savage, etc to downtown Minneapolis for the next few years.  Glad that is not my route  :bigass:
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J N Winkler

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #607 on: October 08, 2017, 03:43:55 PM »

As a longtime fan of MnDOT signing, I have been exploring what is available through the brand-new eDIGS interface to MnDOT's eDocs EDMS.

http://dotapp7.dot.state.mn.us/eDIGS_guest/DMResultSet/ContentSearch

Part of the motivation for checking this out is loss of backdoor access, last June, to full construction plans sets for advertised projects through MnDOT's current planroom contractor, Franz Reprographics.  They used to offer what they called a "Hi-Res Java Viewer" that was basically a Java applet that downloaded the entire actual plans set to your hard drive so it could be viewed locally (in the browser) using the applet itself instead of a PDF plugin with a save button.  In June, however, they disabled it, so download calls resulted in HTTP 404 errors, and now their website has been scrubbed to remove all references to the viewer.

In the absence of access through the planroom contractor, one alternative is the EDMS, crossing fingers that the folks in the records department upload them promptly after letting.  My experience in this regard has been fairly uneven and I have also found that the gap between successive uploads seems to be wider than the gap between consecutive lettings.

What I would like to see now is some lobbying effort to persuade MnDOT to make letting plans available free to the public at the time of advertising, as is already the norm in all of the surrounding states (ND, SD, IA, WI) and in all of the states that surround the surrounding states except WY and MN itself (MT, NE, MO, IL, and MI).

But anyway!  Back to eDIGS . . .

While I was playing with content search on the site (tree search and profile search are also available), I discovered that a simple search for {signs} (no braces) returns 1178 traffic work orders among the results.

Each traffic work order, which can be issued by any MnDOT district, concerns installation and removal of traffic appliances (including signs) by maintenance forces and often includes pattern-accurate sign panel detail sheets for any new signs to be installed.  The TWOs retrieved by this search span a time period reaching back from about 2015 to at least the mid-1980's.  The vast majority are from District 6 (captions beginning WO-YY-6A or WO-YY-6B, where YY is the final two digits of the year; A and B are apparently subdistricts of District 6), which covers Rochester and the surrounding area.  (I am now trying to figure out how to access TWOs from the other districts.)  Most of the TWOs are for installation of specific services signs (addressed in federal MUTCD Chapter 2J, though MnDOT's preferred designs for these signs resemble the tourist-oriented directional signs shown in Chapter 2K), but quite a few are for message revisions on green-background guide signs, signing for state parks (including an almost-unique bicycles-only campground at one state park that was unfindable by most bicyclists without a wasted trip up and down a steep hill), and signing for at least one casino (Treasure Island).

The longest TWO at 157 pages, which ultimately didn't result in signs being erected, concerned a RV resort that wanted "Camping" signing at the I-35/TH 30 interchange near Ellendale.  From this I learned that in Minnesota at least, "Camping" signs are reserved for campgrounds that allow tents and have modern sanitary facilities such as hot showers and flush toilets.  This is useful information given the increasing prevalence of RV-only campgrounds and the fact that surge pricing even at cheap motels can run to over $100 per night.  (The RV resort in question, besides banning tents altogether, was open only to over-50s and banned all RVs over 10 years old.)

I don't yet have a hard page count for the pattern-accurate sign details in this wedge of 1178 TWOs, but they run to 6286 pages and so far have been running at about 10 sign detail pages per 100, so I'm guessing around 630.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2017, 03:46:03 PM by J N Winkler »
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TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #608 on: October 10, 2017, 04:26:30 PM »

Another incident with a raised dump truck results in "extensive" damage to the northbound I-35 bridge over MN 45 outside Cloquet.

http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4341337-lane-i-35-closed-scanlon-after-truck-hits-bridge

kphoger

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #609 on: October 10, 2017, 04:44:43 PM »

I was surprised to find this new interchange on my trip to Saint Cloud last weekend.  Google Maps knows nothing about it, and I was expecting a stop sign.  Almost missed my turn, coming north on CR-5.

Kandiyohi County Road 5 bridge overpass at Hwy 23

Overall, I was very impressed with MN-23 from Willmar to Saint Cloud.
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kphoger

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #610 on: October 10, 2017, 04:49:08 PM »

a longtime fan of MnDOT signing,

They have more than adequate signage, and it's mostly consistent.  They do use text in some situations where I think symbols would be better, but that's a matter of preference.  There are also a LOT of [JCT ## →] signs where the JCT should be removed.  The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #611 on: October 10, 2017, 06:01:37 PM »

I was surprised to find this new interchange on my trip to Saint Cloud last weekend.  Google Maps knows nothing about it, and I was expecting a stop sign.  Almost missed my turn, coming north on CR-5.

Kandiyohi County Road 5 bridge overpass at Hwy 23

Overall, I was very impressed with MN-23 from Willmar to Saint Cloud.

You were benefiting from construction of the Paynesville Bypass (finished around 2012) as well as four-laning upgrades in the early noughties.  MnDOT classifies this length of TH 23 as a MPIRC (medium-priority interregional corridor), which means you are supposed to be able to average 55 mph or better even with traffic signals.  I like this part of TH 23:  it is the part through St. Cloud itself I cannot stand.

. . . a longtime fan of MnDOT signing . . .

They have more than adequate signage, and it's mostly consistent.  They do use text in some situations where I think symbols would be better, but that's a matter of preference.  There are also a LOT of [JCT ## →] signs where the JCT should be removed.  The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.

I like the bypass lane signing too, though I am less keen on turn lanes that feel like they should be bypass lanes instead, an issue that crops up every so often in Minnesota in general (including in at least one of the District 6 TWOs I went through) and came into play a time or two when I followed TH 23 from St. Cloud to I-35 on a summer Friday in 2016.  The experience has left me with more respect for KDOT's basic approach of laying down enough pavement for right-turn lane, through lane, and left-turn lane, the turn lanes being long enough to allow coastdown followed by gentle braking to safe turning speed.

Where MnDOT signing really shines through is in two main areas.  For decades, MnDOT has been really consistent about using Series E Modified for all mixed-case legend, which results in signs that are quite easy to read even with letter sizes at MUTCD minima (which IMO are too low for high-speed conventional roads in rural areas).  It is only in the past few years that standards have loosened to allow Series D on construction signs and in some urban applications, a change I disagree with but which fortunately is well-limited.  At signals and important flat intersections, MnDOT is also quite good about using green-background guide signs where other states would try to get away with sign salad.

And in urban areas, particularly the Twin Cities, MnDOT is quite scrupulous about maintaining continuity of signing.  If you find a trailblazer for, say, an Interstate highway, and then follow it, you can count on finding trailblazers every step of the way until you are actually on the Interstate in your desired direction, which is at best a crapshoot in most other states.  This is especially helpful with the thickets of restricted-access interchanges in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The main variations I have seen in signing across Minnesota are at the district level.  My 2016 trip covered TH 23 all the way from Pipestone to Duluth, and I noticed that the district that covers southwest Minnesota had gone kind of wild with active intersection warning signs and snowmobile right-of-way signing, while pretty much every structure that qualified for a MnDOT bridge number--including even tiny culverts--had a horizontal bridge-number sign ("Bridge No" in small type followed by bridge number in large type, a design that was recently removed from the MnDOT Standard Signs Manual).  By Willmar all of that was pretty much over.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 06:05:26 PM by J N Winkler »
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kphoger

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #612 on: October 10, 2017, 06:24:32 PM »

Yes, there were signs announcing that stretch of MN-23 as having been part of collision reduction initiative or some such verbiage. Nice to know, but not exactly warranting multiple signs on a (warning) yellow background.

I've long been a fan of advance-warning flashing yellow lights for stoplights that are about to turn red (as opposed to those that just flash all the time). MN-23 not only has those, but I also saw one for an unsignalized intersection (assumedly activated by sensors at the crossroad) and also one at a firehouse or something like that. Pretty sweet, especially as I was driving around dusk and dawn, when cross traffic can be rather invisible.

Yes, Minnesota's small green signs on stoplight arms are something that should be replicated across the nation. Along with extensive use of reflectors for snowy conditions.

The thing that irks me most about Minnesota's signage is that there is no consistency in the use of blue pentagons versus white squares for county roads. I had read once that the practice varies by county, but I'm starting to think even that is wishful thinking and counties can actually be internally inconsistent. In Kandiyohi County, for example, I saw several crossroads that used blue pentagons for reassurance markets; however, some of the advance junction assemblies used white squares., while others used blue pentagons. I could determine no rhyme or reason.
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #613 on: October 10, 2017, 06:27:46 PM »

The thing that irks me most about Minnesota's signage is that there is no consistency in the use of blue pentagons versus white squares for county roads. I had read once that the practice varies by county, but I'm starting to think even that is wishful thinking and counties can actually be internally inconsistent. In Kandiyohi County, for example, I saw several crossroads that used blue pentagons for reassurance markets; however, some of the advance junction assemblies used white squares., while others used blue pentagons. I could determine no rhyme or reason.

Some counties use both to differentiate between County State-Aid Highways (the blue pentagons) and regular County Roads (white squares).
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kphoger

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #614 on: October 10, 2017, 06:31:17 PM »

Right. I get that. And I thought maybe that was it. But I saw two situations:

Junction assembly used white square, road itself used blue pentagons.

Junction assembly used blue pentagon, road itself also used blue pentagons.

Explain that!
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #615 on: October 10, 2017, 06:33:29 PM »

Right. I get that. And I thought maybe that was it. But I saw two situations:

Junction assembly used white square, road itself used blue pentagons.

Junction assembly used blue pentagon, road itself also used blue pentagons.

Explain that!

It could be a case of MnDOT making that distinction but not the county (though normally MnDOT follows the same practice as the county it's in). But who knows, maybe it's just an error.
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jakeroot

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #616 on: October 10, 2017, 06:41:04 PM »

The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.

I've never seen/heard of these. Any connection to passing lanes?
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #617 on: October 10, 2017, 06:54:45 PM »

The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.

I've never seen/heard of these. Any connection to passing lanes?

Well, sort of. They're for going around left-turning vehicles in the main travel lane: https://goo.gl/maps/ruj3gqzG59T2
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 07:47:54 PM by MNHighwayMan »
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J N Winkler

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #618 on: October 10, 2017, 07:40:44 PM »

In regard to county road shields, both the squares and pentagons are in the Minnesota MUTCD and counties are free to choose between either.  Some of the lack of consistency comes from counties being in the process of changing from one to the other.

There is also variation in how passing lane stripes emerge from the centerline on rural two-lanes in Minnesota.  Some follow the same basic striping pattern that is prevalent in Ontario, Michigan, and Wisconsin:  broken white stripe tapers to the right away from the yellow centerline until the passing lane reaches unit lane width, at which point the taper ends and the broken white stripe runs parallel to the centerline.  Others have a large hatched yellow island that tapers out from the centerline until it reaches unit lane width, at which point it ends and the right-hand edge becomes a broken white stripe that runs parallel to the centerline:  I recall this is especially favored in southwestern Minnesota (page 14 of 55 in linked PDF has the typical layout).  I believe there are also a few instances of the striping pattern that is favored in Kansas, i.e., shoulder stripe tapers right until unit lane width is reached, at which point the broken white stripe for the passing lane starts.

The goal of the first two striping patterns is to guide drivers out of the passing lane by default, reserving it for those who actually intend to pass.  The first of these two is simpler and less wasteful of both passing lane length and thermoplastic (especially environmentally damaging yellow pigment).
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 07:52:24 PM by J N Winkler »
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jakeroot

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #619 on: October 11, 2017, 04:25:06 AM »

The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.

I've never seen/heard of these. Any connection to passing lanes?

Well, sort of. They're for going around left-turning vehicles in the main travel lane: https://goo.gl/maps/ruj3gqzG59T2

Brilliant piece of engineering. Shame these aren't more common. I can think of at least one good location near me that would do well with a "bypass lane": https://goo.gl/d3s4Q9 (you can tell by the lack of vegetation that the gravel area is used to bypass turning traffic quite often already, but a paved bypass area would make it a lot easier for those in non 4x4 vehicles to perform the maneuver).
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kphoger

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #620 on: October 11, 2017, 10:54:17 AM »

The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.

I've never seen/heard of these. Any connection to passing lanes?

Well, sort of. They're for going around left-turning vehicles in the main travel lane: https://goo.gl/maps/ruj3gqzG59T2

Brilliant piece of engineering. Shame these aren't more common. I can think of at least one good location near me that would do well with a "bypass lane": https://goo.gl/d3s4Q9 (you can tell by the lack of vegetation that the gravel area is used to bypass turning traffic quite often already, but a paved bypass area would make it a lot easier for those in non 4x4 vehicles to perform the maneuver).

And they're EVERYWHERE in Minnesota.  Freaking awesome.
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Revive 755

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #621 on: October 11, 2017, 08:49:05 PM »

I am not a fan of some of MNDOT's signing:

* They seem inconsistent on the use of interchange sequence signs.

* They do not seem to do a good job signing option lanes.  This really becomes an issue when they don't always use exit only tabs either

* Lack of exit numbers on non-interstates

* Not very good at warning of left exits in advance.  Here's one example on NB I-35W.  There should be a black on yellow "left" to the right of "WEST".

* Then there is this sign on I-35W south of Downtown Minneapolis.  Several of the signs south of this assembly do not seem consistent either and are lacking mention of I-94.

* They fail to mention County Road numbers on some freeway signs

* They are not good at mentioning what side of the road an entrance ramp is on in advance
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 06:25:57 PM by Revive 755 »
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #622 on: October 11, 2017, 09:11:49 PM »

Exit numbers have begun to appear on some non-Interstate freeways. I don't expect them all to appear overnight, but the trend has changed.

Second, adding county roads to some freeway signs is pointless. I doubt there's even a single person in existence that navigates Ramsey County largely by using its numbered county road system. Who here previously knew that White Bear Ave is Ramsey County 65? (Though admittedly I might be asking the wrong audience that rhetorical question :-P) There's a few exceptions, like CR 49 and 96 (and even the former is probably better known as Rice St), but those are only because they once were state maintained with those numbers.

Also, your second link doesn't work. ;-)
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 09:24:18 PM by MNHighwayMan »
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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #623 on: October 11, 2017, 09:46:07 PM »

The [BYPASS LANE] signs are super awesome.

I've never seen/heard of these. Any connection to passing lanes?

Well, sort of. They're for going around left-turning vehicles in the main travel lane: https://goo.gl/maps/ruj3gqzG59T2

Brilliant piece of engineering. Shame these aren't more common. I can think of at least one good location near me that would do well with a "bypass lane": https://goo.gl/d3s4Q9 (you can tell by the lack of vegetation that the gravel area is used to bypass turning traffic quite often already, but a paved bypass area would make it a lot easier for those in non 4x4 vehicles to perform the maneuver).

And they're EVERYWHERE in Minnesota.  Freaking awesome.

These lanes are very common in Wisconsin as well at T-intersections. Only in areas of higher traffic do you see them create islands and specific turn lanes.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Minnesota Notes
« Reply #624 on: October 11, 2017, 11:34:50 PM »

I am not a fan of some of MNDOT's signing:

* They seem inconsistent on the use of interchange sequence signs.

How so?

* They do not seem to do a good job signing option lanes.  This really becomes an issue when they don't always use exit only panels either

That particular example strikes me as a variant of the option-lane-followed-by-lane drop problem, which all agencies struggle with.

* Lack of exit numbers on non-interstates

As MNHighwayMan points out, there are signs of progress on this front in Minnesota since the US 169 Shakopee Bypass apparently has signed exit numbers in at least one location.  In comparison, Kansas DOT (to quote just one example) still has a perfect record of no exit numbers on non-Interstates.

* Not very good at warning of left exits in advance.  Here's one example on NB I-35W.  There should be a black on yellow "left" to the right of "LEFT".

An exit number tab with a yellow "LEFT" plaque is a very recent addition to MnDOT's Standard Signs Manual.  MnDOT has been doing relatively few pure sign replacement contracts lately, so the existing left exit tabs without yellow plaque are nowhere near being changed out.

* Then there is this sign on I-35W south of Downtown Minneapolis.  Several of the signs south of this assembly do not seem consistent either and are lacking mention of I-94.

I have some familiarity with this area since I parked on Groveland Avenue (southwestern fringe of downtown, just north of I-94; its bridge over I-94 overlooks the Lyndale Tunnel south portal) to visit the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The signing doesn't seem especially confusing to me, given that the freeway interchanges in the vicinity have restricted access.  The "Downtown Exits" sign (pointing to the downtown connector) may at one time have had TH 65 shields, though I can't be sure without going through my MnDOT sign panel detail sheet stash, which has well over two thousand sheets for Hennepin County alone.  The left exit exists because the downtown connector has a braided connection with I-35W, with which it is in a brief commons until the latter route peels off east for a commons with I-94.  The downtown connector itself has just a restricted-access interchange with I-94 (northbound connects with I-94 westbound only, and southbound does not connect with I-94 at all).  Surface streets in the surrounding neighborhoods have access to eastbound I-94 through Lyndale and South Fifth Avenues only.

* They are not good at mentioning what side of the road an entrance ramp is on in advance

Hmmm?

I am not sure Zwahlen signs have caught on outside Ohio.

As a relative newcomer to the Twin Cities when I visited in May 2016, the biggest adjustment for me was dealing with striping treatments at cloverleafs.  When a collector-distributor roadway is not provided, it is not uncommon for MnDOT to try to mitigate weaving conflicts between an entry loop and an exit loop by cutting back the painted gore for the latter to create more length for merging.  It helps that MnDOT is consistent about using elephant tracks.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 11:36:51 PM by J N Winkler »
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