Officials warn of heavy traffic around U of M

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 3, 2007 - 9:34 AM

Traffic levels around the Twin Cities metro area are extremely light this morning as people enjoy the Labor Day holiday and the last day of the summer vacation season. But come Tuesday morning, that's not likely to be the case.

Traffic levels around the Twin Cities metro area are extremely light this morning as people enjoy the Labor Day holiday and the last day of the summer vacation season. But come Tuesday morning, that's not likely to be the case.

Traffic engineers in Minneapolis warn motorists that the number of vehicles in the vicinity of the University of Minnesota could increase as much as 25 percent as nearly 70,000 students, faculty and staff head back to class Tuesday.

On top of that, traffic in the area has been heavier than usual since motorists have been relying on city streets since the Interstate Hwy. 35W. And a few streets around the university have been rerouted or closed off and some parking lots eliminated or relocated due to construction of a new football stadium on campus.

To help mitigate potential bottlenecks in the university area and in the northeast neighborhoods where traffic volumes have grown the most since the bridge collapse, the city will put 10 additional traffic control agents on the streets.

Some will be deployed along 3rd Avenue and across the Mississippi River from downtown where the street become Central Avenue.

The city also has re-timed some traffic lights to improve traffic flow.

Minneapolis and university officials encourage people to carpool, ride the bus or light rail, bike or walk to help reduce congestion. To encourage faculty and staff to ride the bus to work, the university dropped the cost of a monthly bus pass from $64 to $45. And students can buy an unlimited ride transit pass for $64. The pass is valid for an entire semester.

Metro transit on Tuesday will open a new 550-space park-and-ride lot at 29th and Como Avenues SE. The lot will be served by Route 3, which provides transportation to the university's Minneapolis campus and to within a few blocks of the St. Paul campus.

Elsewhere there is good news for motorists who use Hwy. 36 in North St. Paul and Maplewood. On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation opened one lane in each direction between White Bear Avenue and Century Avenue, also known as Hwy. 120. The 2-mile stretch of highway has been closed since May 1 as part of a reconstruction project. The remaining lanes are expected to open before Thanksgiving, MnDOT said.

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