Time for overpasses on Hiawatha?

I noted this morning the 7th fatality due to the Hiawatha LRT (making it much more dangerous than bus) Pedestrian killed by LRT

Is it time for overpasses? When Hiawatha Avenue was controversially rebuilt in the early part of this decade, it was decided not to build a freeway, so it is 4 lanes rather than 6, and has signalized intersections rather than grade separated interchanges. A consequence is that there is a great deal of signal delay when the parallel Hiawatha LRT passes by.

More importantly, the hazard at those intersections increases greatly as drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists trying to cross on the scarce green time must navigate both the road and the LRT (the LRT causing the green time to be scarcer). Each crash has multiple faults, and many are the fault of those who were hit, but there is a greater design issue at work here: People, bikes, trains, and cars don’t mix well.

By my count from Google Maps, between Franklin Avenue and Fort Snelling, there are 10 at grade intersections on Hiawatha Avenue. (26th St, 28th St., 32nd St, 35th St, 38th St. 42nd St, 46th St. Minnehaha Ave, and 54th St. and Minnehaha Ave again). The cost of an overpass for the cross streets (crossing the LRT and freight railroad tracks and Hiawatha Avenue, plus approach ramps (I envision urban diamonds or traffic circles at the interchanges) obviously is subject to engineering, but could be on the order $10 Million each if they are kept simple.

The cost of a life (value of statistical life) is about $5 Million – $7 Million depending on which agency you believe. Let’s go with $5 Million

The number of deaths per year on the section which could be avoided in a grade separation is built is probably > 1, lets assume 1 for calculation. (This ignores collisions on Hiawatha Avenue itself, ignores property damage and injury collisions as well).

Over 30 years, we would save 30 lives, $150 million at a 0% discount rate. The cost of full separation is on the order of $100 million. The benefit cost ratio is potentially greater than 1 (ignoring travel time benefits on both Hiawatha Avenue, cross streets, and the Hiawatha LRT.

This is a back of the envelope estimate, but it seems like it is a worthwhile investment, and at least worth more formal study, even if the neighborhood is opposed.