Yesterday's Vikings game was a clunker, but at least we have the Minnesota Lynx.
Metro Transit will offer free rides to anybody who wants to venture downtown to celebrate with the 2013 WNBA Champions. There's a parade at 11:30 a.m. along Nicollet Mall from 12th Street to 7th Street, then left on 7th Street to Target Center.
To get a free ride to the parade and all the hoopla inside the Target Center at 12:15 p.m., you must down load a free ride pass here, http://www.metrotransit.org/lynx-free-rides. The pass is good from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
During the parade, Metro Transit routes that normally operate on Nicollet Mall will be retouted onto Grant, LaSalle and Hennepin avenues.
Metro Transit has rolled out new Wi-Fi service on its Northstar Commuter trains. Service began with Monday's morning rush hour trips into downtown Minneapolis.
The free service will be available in at least one car on every run, said transit agency spokesman John Siqveland.
Trains often have four to six cars, so a a special decal that says "Free Wi-Fi on This Car" will be displayed both inside and outside the designated car. On most runs, the Wi-Fi service will be in what's known as the "Cab Car," the one furthest from the locomotive.
"Due to the longer distances traveled on commuter rail, Northstar service is a great match for Wi-Fi," said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.
While the service is free, there will be some restrictions. Questionable content will be blocked and the size of downloads will be restricted as to now overwhelm the system and provide quality access to the largest number of customers, Siqveland said.
Passengers will be able to access the network by using TransitWi-FI. Once there, passengers can surf the net or click into "Sound of Point," an audio project produced by Minnesota Public Radio which narrates information and historical features along the route.
The Northstar line offers six weekday rush hour trips between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis. It also has reduced runs on weekends and operates for special events such as Twins and Vikings games.
As of the end of August, Metro Transit has provided more than 538,000 rides on Northstar trains. That marks an increase of 16 percent over the same eight months in 2012.
The decision to close portions of Park and Portland avenues in downtown Minneapolis to make way for a park would be big traffic disruptions to Downtown East area of the city, according to a report released Monday.
In a draft of the Alternative Urban Areawide Review and Mitigation Plan, closing a 1-block segment of Park and Portland Avenues between 4th and 5th Streets would bring noticeable increases in traffic and congestion on surrounding streets during the morning and evening rush hours.
No decision has been made on whether to close off the streets entirely. Other options include reducing both streets to two lanes and having them open only during peak periods. There are also plans that might eliminate on-street parking on
Closing the roads could result in elimination of on-street parking on mitigation routes, other streets in the area such as Washington Avenue and Chicago Avenue along with 4th and 5th Avenues that would see increased traffic volumes.
The report also noted that any closures or reconfiguration could bring delayed emergency response times since both are near Hennepin County Medical Center.
Any changes to Park or Portland Avenue would need county approval since they are county roads. Fourth and Fifth Streets are under the jurisdiction of the City of Minneapolis.
Ryan Company is floating the idea the park in conjunction with the new Vikings stadium, which will be built on the site of the current Metrodome. The park would also be part of a $400 mixed-use development on land that is currently owned by the Star Tribune.
By the time Friday's Vikings-Houston Texans game wrapped up at the Metrodome, westbound I-94 from downtown out to Hwy. 252 in Brooklyn Center was closed for weekend maintenance. So was westbound 694 at Hwy. 100.
That led to a bigger jam up on westbound 394 than usual after large-scale events let out, and that had some readers asking why that closure could not have waited until for a few more hours.
MnDOT closed the freeway at 10 p.m. Friday, meaning fans and other drivers who normally use that route to get to the northern and northwestern suburbs were forced to find alternate routes home.
That would not have been the case if work had been delayed until midnight. By then Vikings traffic would have been dispersed. The Drive got a few e-mails from disgruntled motorists who got stuck in traffic and blamed MnDOT for poor planning.
Not so, said MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard. He said the agency keeps a list of major events and community festivals in town, and looks at how road work will affect traffic. But with the late beginning to the construction season and a finite amount of time to complete the work, "we can't afford to adjust schedules for everything."
Friday was a busy traffic night for sure, but fewer drivers were on the road when compared to a Monday morning rush hour. Had work on 94 and 694 been delayed until midnight, there was the chance the freeway would not have been open by the advertised time of 5 a.m. Monday. Both freeways were open for Monday's rush hour.
"Yes, the Vikings game is a traffic generator, but realize that there is as huge of volume of traffic as there is during a rush hour," Barnard said. "Would you rather have this on Friday night or Monday morning when there are thousands of commuters coming into town?"
Over the weekend, drivers encountered detours on I-94, I-694, northbound Hwy. 169 from Hwy. 55 to 94 and a complete closure of Hwy. 252 at 694.
That made it tough to get out of downtown to the northern and northwestern suburbs.
Football and concerts will bring crowds to downtown Minneapolis while construction projects on 694 and 35W will hamper the ability to get around.
The Metrodome will be epicenter of activity on Friday night as the Minnesota Vikings kickoff the pre-season with a game against the Houston Texans.
Fans driving to the game should not have any problems getting to the game, but Adrian Peterson might be running faster than motorists heading home. Several highways and freeways in every corner of the metro will shut down for the weekend starting Friday night. Those include:
For more details, see the ROADWORK section below.
Train riders won't escape construction either. Metro Transit has Blue Line track work scheduled on the southern-most part of the line between MSP Airport Terminal 2 and the Mall of America from 11:30 p.m. Friday until 3:30 a.m. Monday.
The Vikings game is not the only big event that will draw large amounts of traffic. Across the river in St. Paul, thousands will descend on Harriet Island for the Irish Fair of Minnesota on Harriet Island.
The weekend also features the Pizza Luce Block Party and Ecudorian Independence Day celebrations.
The 411 on GETTING TO THE VIKINGS GAME
The purple gang takes to the gridiron at 7 p.m. Friday to begin the final season at the Metrodome. If you are going to the game, here are a few tips:
For those who drive to the game, or downtown workers who will be trying to get home, the City of Minneapolis will block off the following streets in the vicinity of the Metrodome beginning at 5 p.m. and keep them free from traffic until 2 hours after the game ends, roughly 11 p.m:
Arriving by light rail
The Metro Blue Line has been a popular way for fans to get to the game. But as game time approaches, cars are packed, so the best advice is to catch an early train. Be aware that track work will begin at 11:30 p.m. Friday until 3:30 a.m. Monday between MSP Terminal 2 and the Mall of America. Buses will fill in during the shut down. Trains will run as scheduled elsewhere along the line.
Train riders can take advantage of free parking at the 28th Avenue, Fort Snelling and Lake Street/Midtown stations. Northbound trains run about every 7 to 10 minutes for most of the evening.
After the game, Metro Transit will augment Blue Line service with buses that will take riders directly to the Fort Snelling and 28th Avenue Park & Ride lots. They will run from 8:30 p.m. until post-game crowds have dispursed.
Regular rail fare of $2.25 from 3 to 6:30 p.m., then $1.75 after applies, or buy a 6-hour rail pass and avoid having to buy a second ticket to get back home.
Metro Transit also will run a special Northstar Commuter train to the game. The train will leave Big Lake at 5:06 p.m. and arrive at Target Field Station at 5:55 p.m. Departure is one hour after the game ends. Here is a link to the schedule and fares.
The following Metro Transit routes serve the Metrodome:
From the north or south, Routes 5, 7, 14, 19 and 22
From the west, Routes 7 and 9
From the east, Routes 3, 16 and 94.
It's always congested around the Metrodome, so the best advice is to park away from the stadium and walk or catch a Metro Transit bus or light rail for 50 cents from your favorite ramp or lot.
It's also cheaper as lots closest to the dome charge $20 or more. Here are links to downtown ramps, http://www.minneapolismn.gov/parking/ramps/index.htm
Here is a link to downtown Minneapolis parking meters and rates, http://www.mplsparking.com/CurrentMeterMap.pdf
Parking for people with a handicap is available at the Hennepin County offices between 5th and 6th Streets on Park Avenue. Handicap street parking is also available between 3rd and 4th Streets on Chicago Avenue.
Outside bicycle parking is available cost free. The parking attendants at the loading dock entrance at 11th Avenue and 5th Street can direct you.
OTHER TRAFFIC GENERATING EVENTS/STREET CLOSURES
The Minneapolis Warehose District will be busy on Saturday night as Target Center is hosting the Summer Break Tour with Big Time Rush and Victoria Justice on Saturday night.
Those coming in on I-394 and I-94 will want to avoid using 4th Street. Pizza Luce is throwing a block party from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and 4th Street will be closed between 2nd and 1st Avenues. Motion City Soundtrack is the headline act.
The Irish Fair of Minnesota takes place on Harriet Island in St. Paul on Saturday and Sunday, and word from festival organizers is that parking could be a challenge. They put this information out for festivalgoers wondering where to leave their vehicles:
"There is limited parking along Plato Blvd from Wabasha St West toward the park. Many private businesses near the part open their parking lots for the general public, most charge a fee. You can also park in downtown St. Paul and walk across the Wabasha St. bridge to the festival. Handicap parking is available on the north side of Water St between Wabasha and Plato Blvd until full."
Minneapolis Open Streets
The third in a series of Open Streets events takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Minnehaha Avenue between Lake Street and Minnehaha Pkwy. will be closed so citizens can walk, bike, skateboard and use wheelchairs to get around without having to deal with motorized traffic. Numerous family activities also will take place. See www.openstreetsmpls.com for details.
Ecuadorian Independence Day Celebrations
Spicy South American music, dancing, soccer and food are among the highlights of the Northeast Ecuadorian Independence Day celebration from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Two blocks of Central Avenue from 22nd to 24th Avenues will be closed and traffic detoured. Metro Transit route 10 will be detoured.
On Sunday, the party shifts to Lake Street between Bloomington Avenue and 31st. Festivities run from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
New Brighton Stockyard Days
The celebration includes a parade, which will shut down portions of 10th Street, Old Highway 8, 8th Street and 8th Avenue from roughly 3 to 9 p.m. Friday. Metro Transit routes 141 and 4 will be on detour.
St. Paul Saints
The Saints host the Sioux City Explorers with games Friday through Sunday at Midway Stadium.
METRO AREA ROAD WORK
Work continues on the Bloomington Ferry Bridge in the south metro. Traffic is single lane head-to-head on the southbound side of the bridge through Aug. 23. Expect delays between Old Shakopee Road and County Road 18.
To the north, this should be the last weekend of a full shut down of Hwy. 169 between I-94 and Hwy. 55 through New Hope, Brooklyn Park and Golden Valley. The barricades go up at 9 p.m. Friday and they should come down by 5 a.m. Monday. Alternate route: I-494, or use Hwy. 55 or 394 to Hwy. 100.
I-35W through Burnsville and 35 through Lakeville
MnDOT crews will close southbound I-35W between Hwy. 13 and the Burnsville Split from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday for bridge painting. Detour: Motorists will be directed to use I-494 to I-35E to bypass the closure.
The ramp from southbound 35W to northbound Hwy. 13 will close, and all ramps from Hwy. 13 to southbound 35W will close.
In Lakeville, northbound I-35 will be reduced to a single lane from County Road 50 up to the Burnsville Split from 10 a.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. Ramps to and from County Road 46 to southbound 35 will be closed.
Here is what will be closed this weekend for bridge demolition:
Both directions of Hwy. 252 at I-694. Detour: Southbound traffic will be rerouted to Hwy. 100 to eastbound 394.
Westbound 694 will be closed at Hwy. 100. Detour: South on Hwy. 100, then west on 394, then north on 494.
Westbound 94 from 394 to 694. Detour: West on 394, then north on 494.
Traffic shifts began this week on I-694 through Brooklyn Center and Fridley as work on the inside lanes wrapped up and the repair of the outside lanes gets underway. New lane closures will be phased in and should be complete by Saturday, MnDOT says.
Once that happens, ramps from East River Road to 694 in both directions will close for two months. Ramps from Hwy. 252 to 694 also will be closed. Drivers will still be able access East River Road from westbound 694.
I-694 in both directions will be a single lane from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily and two lanes from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from Hwy. 252 to 35W, although the exact location of lane closures will vary.
I-94 at White Bear Avenue
Work on a drainage improvement project begins at Sunday night along I-94 between White Bear Avenue and Ruth Street. The ramp from White Bear Avenue to eastbound 94 will be closed until Sept. 7. The auxiliary lane between White Bear and Ruth also will be closed.
Motorists may encounter additional lane and shoulder closures in the area, MnDOT says.
Highway 95 closure near Stillwater
The Hwy. 36 flyover bridge over Hwy. 95 in Oak Park Heights is coming down. MnDOT crews will begin demolition at 10 p.m. Friday. The result is that Hwy. 95 will be closed between Hwy. 36 and Point Road.
Detour: Motorists will be directed along 5th Avenue in Bayport to Stagecoach Trail, south to 47th Avenue and west to Osgood, north on Osgood to Hwy. 36 and east back to Hwy. 95.
Highway 10 in northwest metro
Motorists heading up north through Anoka and Coon Rapids will likely experience delays as lane closures go into effect Friday through Sunday. Here is what will be reduced to a single lane for bridge work and drainage repairs:
I-94 near Albertville
Here is one lane closure that's not likely to affect too many people. The ramp from eastbound 94 to County Road 19 in Albertville will be out of service from 11 p.m. Sunday until 6 a.m. Monday.
Lake Harriet Parkway
The parkway in south Minneapolis around the lake will be shut down from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday for the Emotions in Motion Run and Walk for Mental Health.