Our view: Joshua Avenue extension wasn’t needed anywaySkepticism over the ability to land federal money for an extension project estimated at $5 million to $7 million was cited at Monday’s Duluth City Council meeting, just like it was two years ago after then-U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar failed to secure the money and then was ousted from office.
The Duluth City Council once again slammed the brakes on talk of extending Joshua Avenue as a route from eastern Duluth to the mall area. Skepticism over the ability to land federal money for an extension project estimated at $5 million to $7 million was cited at Monday’s council meeting, just like it was two years ago after then-U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar failed to secure the money and then was ousted from office.
But that’s OK. The extension isn’t necessary anyway.
Rude motorists who for decades have been speeding through neighborhoods to reach the mall, endangering residents and damaging residential streets not meant for heavy and frequent through traffic, haven’t been saving themselves any time anyway and can be urged to stop attempting a shortcut.
Head-to-head comparisons conducted several years ago by News Tribune Opinion page staffers determined that cars taking the appropriate and geographically longer route along Arrowhead Road, Haines Road and Miller Trunk Highway made the trip an average of 22 seconds faster than cars cutting through Swan Lake Road, Eklund Avenue and Maple Grove Road. The proper way to the mall averaged 10 seconds faster than the supposed shortcut, 6:33 to 6:43 from the Holiday gas station at Arrowhead and Rice Lake roads to the front doors of JCPenney. Going the other direction, the time savings was greater, 32 seconds, at 4:55 to 5:27.
Transportation planners with the Metropolitan Interstate Council reached similar findings when they, too, timed the routes. “That’s very comparable to our numbers,” a MIC principal planner told the News Tribune in April 2007.
With federal money for a Joshua Avenue extension probably unavailable for the foreseeable future, Duluth can concentrate its limited resources instead on cracking down on speeding and reckless cut-through motorists in mall-area neighborhoods. Officers can use their discretion to sock it to the shortcut-takers while giving warnings and have-a-nice-days to the residents.
If a stepped-up police presence fails to deliver the message, then here it is one more time: The shortcut is no shortcut. Really. The route engineered and designed for heavy mall traffic is still the safest, most considerate — and, yes, fastest — way to go.