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Metro Transit offers tours of Northstar facility in Big Lake

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: April 24, 2015 - 10:17 AM

Metro Transit on Saturday is showing off the Northstar commuter rail line and facilities in Big Lake where trains are parked.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., officials will give tours of the operations and maintenance facility at 19699 County Road 43 in Big Lake.

Metro Transit will run a special non-stop train from Big Lake to Target Field Station and back, with the departure at 10 a.m. Lunch also will be served.

The open house comes as Metro Transit is trying to win back customers who left the train amid delays and introduce the service to others who have not tried it, said General Manager Brian Lamb during a recent Met Council meeting.

"Over the past year and a half we have struggled with ontime performance issues on the mainline," he said, referencing weather delays and those caused by track maintenance issues and heavy freight traffic clogging the tracks. "We have had a few good months, but we want to reintroduce and invite the community to not only tour our facility in Big Lake, but take a free ride to Minneapolis and see how convenient Northstar is."

Metro Transit runs daily service along the 41-mile line with stops at Ramsey, Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley in addition to the ending points of Big Lake and Target Field in downtown Minneapolis.

Along with commuter service, Metro Transit runs special trains for Twins, Vikings and other special events.

Construction of 46th Street at Minnehaha Avenue begins Monday

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: April 20, 2015 - 12:38 PM

South Minneapolis commuters will find orange cones and lane restrictions kick in Monday as Hennepin County begins reconstructing the intersection of Minnehaha Avenue and 46th Street.

This morning, the left lane of 46th Street was to close in both directions between Snelling Avenue and 42nd Avenue as crews were to remove and pave the center median.

On Tuesday, all traffic will be shifted to the south side of 46th Street and be single lane in each direction. This will be the configuration for several months as one the north side of 46th Street is reconstructed, work on the south side will begin.

Metro Transit routes 7 and 9 will be shifted off Minnehaha Avenue and run on Hiawatha Avenue between 42nd and 46th Streets. Bus stops at Minnehaha Avenue and 46th Street will be closed during construction.

This is all part of a larger project in which Minnehaha Avenue will be reconstructed between Minnehaha Pkwy. and 38th Street this summer.  Work will be done in four-block segments. It started last week between Minnehaha and 46th Street. 

Motorist attempting to navigate around the construction can try West River Pkwy. up to 42nd Street, then west back over to Minnehaha Avenue.  Here is the official detour

  • Southbound Minnehaha Avenue: Follow westbound 42nd Street to southbound Hiawatha Avenue to eastbound 46th Street to Godfrey Parkway.
  • Northbound Minnehaha Avenue: Follow eastbound Godfrey Parkway to westbound 46th Street to northbound Hiawatha Avenue to eastbound 42nd Street

Meanwhile, some commuters have found getting into downtown Minneapolis off of I-94 has been problematic with the closure of 5th Street near the new Vikings stadium.

On Monday, traffic was gridlocked on the 5th Street ramp off westbound 94.The ramp jams which have been frequent since April 1 have made getting into downtown Minneapolis more difficult and time consuming. Using 11th Street is a suggestion, but that, too, gets crammed up.  With few good alternates available, drivers will need patience and hope they hit a pocket with lighter traffic.


Fourth Street closes near former Star Tribune building

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: April 16, 2015 - 1:25 PM

Commuters looking to make a fast exit out of downtown Minneapolis by way of 4th Street will run into a detour starting Wednesday.

A one block segment of 4th Street is closed between Portland Avenue and Park Avenue. The closure will be in effect until July, according to city officials.

Traffic will be detoured south on Portland Avenue to 6th Street, east on 6th to Park Avenue then north on Park back to 4th Street.  The bike lane also will be closed.

For commuters looking to access I-35W, rather than taking the six-block detour, it might be easier to just scoot over to Washington Avenue or use 4th Avenue S.  For drivers looking to get on westbound I-94, it might be just as easy to hit 3rd Street and leave on the west end of downtown.

Over the next few months, crews will be relocating utility lines and filling a tunnel that used to connect the former Star Tribune buildings.

The newspaper recently moved its operations to the Capella Building at 650 3rd Avenue S.  Its former headquarters on Portland Avenue will be torn down to make way for the public park planned in connection with the new Vikings stadium.

Reconfiguration of 5th Street by Vikings' stadium bumped up to March 30

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: March 23, 2015 - 5:07 PM

The signs greeting motorists exiting from westbound I-94 to 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis are right. Work on reconfiguring 5th and 6th Streets near the new Vikings' stadium begins Monday March 30, two days earlier than originally announced, said Jeff Handeland an engineer with the Minneapolis Public Works Department.

While Fifth Street between 11th Avenue and Park Avenue will be closed, 6th Street will remain open.

Westbound motorists on 5th Street will be directed to use 11th Avenue to Washington Avenue, or 11th Avenue to 7th Street and then to Park Avenue during the closure, which will be in effect for most of the construction season.

Here is what is happening: Fifth Street will be reduced to a single westbound lane between 11th Avenue and Park Avenue, meaning drivers coming off of I-94 will still be able to access Portland Avenue, Park Avenue, 5th Avenue and 4th Avenue in downtown Minneapolis.

Sixth Street will be reduced to two eastbound lanes to funnel motorists to Interstate 94. Currently about 9,000 motorists exit I-94 at 5th Street, but 6,000 of them turn at 11th Avenue. About 3,000 continue west on 5th Street around the site of the new stadium.

Additionally the current bicycle lanes on 5th and 6th streets will be replaced with a two-way trail that will follow the current alignment of 5th Street and wind around the south side of the Vikings stadium. The trail will link up with other city trails and allow cyclists to ride around the new stadium.

This summer construction also will start on a new ramp from westbound 94 to 7th Street. That ramp won't open at least until 2016. In the meantime, the 5th Street ramp will remain open.

"When the construction is complete, I think people are going to like the improvements," Handeland said. " Since 7th Street crosses the entire length of downtown without interruption, traffic exiting here will have better access to downtown Minneapolis stores, restaurants, businesses and other destinations."

Cyclists will have new off-street bike paths across east downtown and the removal of 5th St and its skewed intersections and chain link barrier will make east downtown more walkable, Handeland said.

The redo is necessary to give more space for the sprawling Vikings stadium. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority is paying Minneapolis $1.572 million to buy the land, move 5th Street and modify 6th Street, Handeland said. A small portion of 4th Street is also part of the deal.

Closing is set for sometime in April, but street construction will get underway before the final documents are signed.

Minneapolis plans to piggyback on the project to upgrade traffic signals in the area around the stadium with overhead arms and make other improvements, Handeland said.


Weekend traffic: Another Hwy. 100 closure, Prep Bowl, Vikings

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: November 21, 2014 - 12:46 PM

It's the week before Thanksgiving and hard to believe that we are still talking road construction, but we are. This weekend brings another closure of Hwy. 100 through Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Edina, as well as lane closures in Plymouth and in St. Paul. 

The Minnesota Wild are away, but the Timberwolves have home games on Friday and Saturday, which will bring extra traffic to downtown Minneapolis. And be ready for fans heading to TCF Bank Stadium for high school football. The Prep Bowl takes place Friday and Saturday at the University of Minnesota.

Sunday marks the Vikings' rematch with the Green Bay Packers. It's a noon kickoff at TCF Bank Stadium.

Fans who attended one of the team's previous home probably have their parking and transit routines down. For those making their first visit to the U, here are some parking tips for Vikings fans. Plan ahead as roads around the U will be most crowded about 2 hours prior to kickoff and 90 minutes following the game.

The U has plans in place to get fans on and off campus as efficiently as possible, but officials recommend taking transit to the game.

A number of Metro Transit bus routes connect to the Green Line. Blue Line riders can transfer to the Green Line at the Downtown East Station.  Green Line trains stop right across the street from the stadium at Stadium Village. Another option is getting off at the East Bank Station and avoiding the throngs using Stadium Village.  It's only a few block walk.  Which ever stop you use, buy a 6-hour event pass to avoid standing in line at the vending machine after the game.

Northstar trains will operate for Sunday's game. Here is the schedule.

Highway 100 closure

For the second weekend in a row, crews will be demolishing a railroad bridge over Hwy. 100, and to do so they will shut down Hwy. 100 in both directions between I-394 and the Crosstown.

At 8:30 p.m. Friday, ramps along 100 between Crosstown and 394 will close, and at 10 p.m. the highway itself will be shut down.  Lanes and ramps are supposed to be open by 5 a.m. Monday, MnDOT said.

During the closure, motorists will be detoured on I-394, Hwy. 169 and Crosstown.  I-35W is another option. MnDOT say motorists should allow for extra travel time, watch for detour signs and find alternative routes.

Reconstructing the railway bridge is part of a 2 year construction project that will improve interchange safety and mobility on Highway 100, The project includes adding an auxiliary lane, reconfiguring and reconstructing the Minnetonka Boulevard and Hwy. 7 bridges and ramps, and building noise walls along the  between Excelsior Blvd. and I-394. 

I-494 in Plymouth

Look for the northbound side to be a single lane from Hwy. 55 up to I-94 from 7 p.m. Friday. until 5 p.m. Saturday.

I-35W in Minneapolis

Look for lane restrictions in both directions of the freeway in northeast Minneapolis. Northbound will be reduced to two lanes between 3rd Street and Johnson Street at 6 p.m. Friday and to a single lane starting at 8.  Work will continue until 11:45 p.m. Saturday, so expect delays.  Use Hwy. 280 as a good alternate.

Southbound lanes will be reduced to two lanes from Johnson Street to Hennepin Avenue from 7 p.m. Sunday until 5 a.m. Monday.

In a bit of good news, the newly constructed 4th Street entrance ramp to northbound I-35W opens to traffic this weekend. Weather permitting, the ramp will open tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 22

I-35E in St. Paul

Today in St. Paul, southbound I-35E will reduced to a single lane between Maryland Avenue and I-94 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  MnDOT says motorists should expect significant delays and should leave early or use alternative routes, if possible.

Also, the ramp from southbound I-35E to University Avenue will close until summer 2015 for area reconstruction. The suggested detour is to take westbound Pennsylania Avenue and southbound Jackson Street to access University Avenue


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