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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

September ridership on the Green Line tops 1 million

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: October 14, 2014 - 3:54 PM

Metro Transit provided 1.063 million rides on the Green Line during September, the highest monthly total since the 11-mile line that runs between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis began operating in June according to numbers released Tuesday by the Metropolitan Council.

The line's average weekday ridership of 37,178 was 35 percent above 2015 projections and not far below the 41,000 predicted for 2030, the council said.  The year-to-date ridership was 3,477,945 at the end of last month.

“We are thrilled the community is embracing the Green Line for all types of travel,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “The excitement surrounding the Green Line has obviously lasted well beyond opening weekend and will continue to build as the corridor develops in the years ahead.”

The Met Council also said ridership along the University Avenue corridor has doubled since September 2013 when buses carried 653,208. This year, buses -routes 16 and 94 - along with the Green Line ridership totaled 1,185,217 during September.

The most active stop on the Green Line was the University of Minnesota's East Bank Station with an average of 4,655 weekday boardings.

Fans attending Vikings and Gophers football games at TCF Bank Stadium have helped boost ridership, the council said. In an earlier blog post, I reported that 25 percent of Vikings fans arrived at the team's September home games by light rail.

Here are the average weekday ridership numbers for the Green Line's first three months, according to Metro Transit.:

July: 31,309
August: 33,994
September: 37,178

A quarter of Vikings fans take Green Line to the game

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: October 6, 2014 - 10:53 AM

Nearly 25 percent of fans who went to the Vikings' two regular season home games took the Green Line to the game.

According to Metro Transit, 12,780 fans took the new light-rail line to TCF Bank Stadium for the Vikings vs. New England game on Sept. 14 and 12,737 did so on Sept. 28 when the team hosted Atlanta.

In both cases, that represented 24 percent of all fans who went to the game. Metro Transit says each fan counts as two rides - there and back.

Meanwhile, a scant 10 percent of fans who attended the Gophers' home game on Aug. 28 against  Eastern Illinois used the Green Line.  Only 9 percent did so for the Sept. 20 home game against San Jose State, according to Metro Transit.

This weekend, Oct. 11 and 12, both the Gophers and Vikings have home games. Here are the numbers provided by Metro Transit.

Game

Date

Fans who rode to game*

Percent of attendance

Gophers

Aug. 28

4,557

10

Vikings

Sept. 14

12,780

24

Gophers

Sept. 20

4,139

9

Vikings

Sept. 28

12,737

24

Meanwhile, ridership along the 11-mile line from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis continues to soar. From Sept. 2-19, the average weekday ridership was 37,835. That is well above the 2014 projection of 26,638 riders and the 27,529 riders projected for 2015, said Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr.

From Sept. 2-19, the East Bank Station had the highest weekday ridership with an average of 5,093 rides. The U's West Bank station had the fourth highest ridership on the lin ewith 2,445 rides. The stop at Stadium Village has 1,733 riders.

In comparison, the highest number of weekday boardings on the Blue Line during the same period was at Terminal 2-Humphrey with an average of 3,041.

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