Return to Home Page 221 West First Street 
Duluth, MN 55802 
Duluth Heights Traffic Circulation Plan
The purpose of this study is to document cut through traffic and identify options to reduce impacts and improve flow in and around the Duluth Heights neighborhood.

Half Closure Survey Results 1/08
Duluth Heights residents were surveyed to find out their attitudes toward the half closure. A total of 875 surveys were mailed and 280 surveys were returned for a response rate of 32%. View the survey and information mailed to Duluth Heights residents.
View the results of the survey.

The results indicate that 33% of respondents saw an increase in traffic near their homes while 24% saw a decrease in traffic and 31% saw little or no change. The half closure impacted local travel patterns for 60% of respondents. The list of roads the respondents now used compared to before the half closure was extensive. Roughly 67% of respondents witnessed drivers illegally going around the half closure. When asked if they were in favor of keeping the half closure in place, the result was split almost evenly for those who answered the question.

Traffic Calming Update 9/07
Aerial View of Half Closure at Eklund Avenue and Swan Lake Road The City of Duluth recently conducted traffic counts in the same locations as counts taken prior to the study, to enable us to monitor the effectiveness of the Half Closure that was installed in May 2007 at the intersection of Swan Lake Road and Eklund Avenue. Comparing the counts from 2005 with the 2007 counts shows that traffic along the primary cut through route has been reduced significantly. Traffic has been reduced over 40% on Eklund Avenue south of the Half Closure and 35% on Swan Lake Road north of the Half Closure.

Traffic counts also show that traffic increased by 21% on Maple Grove Road east of Eklund Avenue. However, when the 2007 count was compared with the earlier counts, the increase amounts to only 4%. Given that this count location is not along the primary cut through route, the increase could be attributed to changes in travel patterns for residents of the study area. Another area that saw an increase is Ideal Street west of Arlington Avenue. The base count from 2005 was 240 vehicles and the 2007 count was 360 vehicles for an increase of 50%. The relatively low traffic volume makes this percentage increase higher.

According to Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), a single family household generates 10 vehicle trips a day. A trip to work and then home represents two trips. Changes in travel patterns for few households could represent the increase in traffic on Ideal Street near Arlington Avenue. Overall the Half Closure has functioned as intended and reduced traffic in the neighborhood. View the 2005 and 2007 counts and trip generation information.

We would also like to hear from area residents regarding their impressions of the impact the Half Closure had on traffic in the neighborhood. MIC staff will be compiling a survey to mail to study area residents after they have had a chance to adjust their travel patterns.

Duluth Heights residents have reported significant increases in the volume and speed of traffic through the neighborhood as the Miller Hill Mall area has expanded over the past several years. Traffic from eastern Duluth and the townships north of Duluth destined for the Miller Hill area use a variety of routes including these residential streets, which were not designed to handle large amounts of traffic. The MIC was approached in mid-2005 and asked to study the problem and to identify solutions to lessen the impact of cut through traffic on the Duluth Heights neighborhood. The study began in September 2005 and was completed in August 2006.

A temporary Half Closure was installed at the intersection of Swan Lake Road and Eklund Avenue on Tuesday May 22, 2007. A Half Closure is a barrier that blocks travel in one direction for a short distance on otherwise two-way streets. The purpose of this roadway change is to discourage traffic from cutting through the neighborhood. Our study findings showed that as much as half of the traffic entering the neighborhood from Arrowhead Road onto Swan Lake Road cuts through. (Read more about recommended solutions, below)

The Eklund Avenue Half Closure will have a six month trial period. After approximately 30-60 days, traffic counters will be installed throughout the neighborhood to compare traffic volumes with counts taken in 2005. This will provide information regarding the effectiveness of this traffic calming measure.

Study Area
The study area was defined as the area bounded by Arrowhead Road on the north, Arlington Road on the east, Central Entrance/Miller Trunk Highway on the south and Haines Road on the west.

Study Process
The study process consisted of problem identification and solution development. The problem identification phase of the study included an initial public meeting and the collection of traffic data. The initial public meeting allowed area residents to voice their concerns and issues. The traffic data compiled included historic traffic counts, current traffic counts, turning movement counts at key intersections, trip generation rates, and cut through traffic counts.

The solution development phase of the study included public input from a resident survey and two more public meetings. Potential solutions were filtered through a set of criteria and further analysis to identify affordable, effective and feasible methods of deterring cut through traffic.

Professional staff from the City of Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the MIC was organized to assist with the study. The primary tasks of this Oversight Committee were to assist in traffic data collection, review methodology and results of traffic data analysis, review solution options and assist with public meetings. The committee met on an as-needed basis throughout the study.

Public Input
Public input was critical to the success of this study. MIC staff received public input through three public meetings, a resident survey and general public comment through phone calls, emails and letters.

The first public meeting was an Issues Identification Meeting held on September 8, 2005. A brief presentation describing the study was done, followed by a session in which residents wrote their issues and concerns on aerials photos of the study area. Approximately 75 people attended the meeting.

The second public meeting was a Public Open House/Solution Identification Meeting held on February 16, 2006. The meeting began with a review of all the traffic data collected for the study and the results of the resident survey. The second half of the meeting was dedicated to having residents brainstorm potential solutions, and to writing and drawing their ideas on aerial photos. Approximately 100 people participated in this meeting.

The final public meeting was held on June 20, 2006 to review proposed solutions and get public comment. The proposed solutions were presented to the attendees. The meeting concluded with public comment. Approximately 100 people attended with about 25 people signing up to comment. Comments were taken into consideration in developing the final recommendations.

A resident survey was sent to 875 households in the study area with 285 completed surveys returned to us for a response rate of 33%. The survey sought residents’ attitudes on the magnitude of the cut through problem, traffic calming, new roadways and improvements to current roadways. Residents also provided general comment on neighborhood traffic issues.

General comments were received throughout the study by letters, emails, and phone calls. An article that ran in the Duluth News Tribune around the end of the year prompted a large amount of public comment.

Detailed summaries of the public input are included throughout the final Plan document. The full results of the resident survey are included in the Appendix.

Recommended Solutions
The final recommendations include long term and shorts term solutions. Short term recommendations are designed to lower the amount of cut though traffic by installing two half closures and one full closure. Half closures are barriers that block travel in one direction for a short distance on otherwise two way streets. Full closures are a complete barrier of a street leaving the block open to local traffic at one end, but physically closing the other end. A system of monitoring has also been identified to determine the effectiveness of this traffic calming system and to make sure it doesn’t push the problem elsewhere. Other short term recommendations include minor intersection changes on arterials bordering the study area.

The long term recommendation is to develop a new north-south roadway between Miller Trunk Highway and Arrowhead Road along the Joshua Street alignment. As part of this recommendation, Swan Lake Road would be closed at its intersection with Arrowhead Road and connected westward to the new arterial. The new roadway is located roughly at the halfway point between Haines Road and Arlington Avenue. This recommendation is scheduled for the time period 2011-2016.

Next Steps
The next steps in this process is for the City of Duluth to conduct an alignment study to identify needed right of way, impacted wetlands and determine which local streets will be connected to the new roadway. Project development and design funding will be applied for in the next sequence of federal transportation funding.

For More Information
Contact MIC Principal Planner Andy McDonald by phone at (218) 529-7514 or by e-mail.