The Drive will keep you up to speed with the latest on Twin Cities commuting.

This weekend in traffic: Seat belt crackdown, bridge demolition and sports, sports, sports

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: March 21, 2014 - 11:49 AM

The Twin Cities is somewhat of a sports Mecca this weekend as it hosts two college hockey tournaments, the finals of the Minnesota State High School Girls Basketball Tournament, Gopher men's and women's basketball games and a Timberwolves game. There's also Swarm (lacrosse) and Wild games at the Xcel Energy Center, and a tad bit of road construction to deal with.

Those events will bring lots of extra folks into town, including many who may not be accustomed to downtown streets so expect delays and congestion around parking lots and ramps.

No matter where you go this weekend, be sure to wear your seat belt. The State Patrol and other law enforcement agencies in the metro area and across the state will be looking for motorists who are not buckled up, and for kids who are not properly restrained in car seats. See below for details.

Here are some specifics and your guide for getting around.

Minneapolis

The Target Center will be a busy place Friday and Saturday with the semifinals and finals of the NCHC collegiate hockey tournament. The first game begins just as many will be heading home from work, so skip out early if possible. Or be prepared to add time to the drive if your commute takes you near the arena. Be on the lookout for pedestrians as there will be many.  On Sunday at 2:30 p.m., the Timberwolves tip off in a critical game with the Phoenix Suns.

Here is a link to downtown parking lots and ramps.  Street parking is also available, but be sure to read the signs that spell out when parking is legal and when it's not:

  • Metered spaces have varying time restrictions and rates.
  • Time restrictions and rates are posted at each metered space.
  • Rates and restrictions can vary on different sides of the street

St. Paul

The Big 10 Hockey Tournament continues Friday with games Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center. On Saturday at 1 p.m., the Minnesota Wild takes on the Detroit Red Wings, so the place and the city will be hopping. On Sunday, the Swarm are in action against Buffalo.

St. Paul Smart Trips has a guide to ramps and lots and rates. Information for on-street metered parking and time limits is available here.

University of Minnesota

The champions of girls high school basketball will be crowned Saturday at Williams Arena, site of the Minnesota State High School Girls Basketball Tournament. On Sunday, the university's men's team plays at 2 p.m. and the women's team takes court at 5 p.m.  Here is where you can find parking information.

Along with basketball fans, look for extra traffic as students return to campus following spring break.

Weekend road work

Those who plan to use Warner Road to escape from downtown St. Paul will have to find an alternate route. Warner will be closed between Sibley Street and Childs Road to allow MnDOT crews to continue taking down the old Lafayette Bridge. The closure will be in place from 7 p.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Click It or Ticket!

From Friday through March 31, police from 400 agencies will be enforcing the state's seat belt law and especially looking for children who are not properly restrained in car seats. While 94 percent of Minnesotans follow the law, the Department of Public Safety says about 150 people who don't wear seat belts are killed in traffic accidents and another 400 who don't are injured.

“Far too many people die or are seriously injured on our roads because they didn’t buckle up,” said Donna Berger, DPS Office of Traffic Safety director. “It’s the law – all motorists must buckle up, even when riding in the back seat. Seat belts and child seats can – and do – save lives.”

Drivers and passengers in all vehicles must be buckled up or in the correct child restraint. A ticket can cost between $25 and $100.

That's money that would be better spent at the concession stand.

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