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Minnesota records its 25th motorcyle death of the year

A 53-year-old man from Rockville became the state's 25th motorcycle fatality on Thursday when he crashed his bike on a rural Stearns County road while trying to flee police.

Police tried to stop Jeffrey Wiener man for a traffic violation, but he led them on a pursuit along County Road 75 in St. Augusta. Wiener lost control and his 2006 Harley Davidson went off the road around 9:30 p.m. at the intersection of County Road 7. Weiner, who was not wearing a helmet, was thrown off the bike and pronounced dead at the scene, the State Patrol said.

Motorcycle deaths have risen 56 percent this year when compared to last year at this time when there had been 16. For the year, 2014 saw 46 motorcycle fatalities.

In a disturbing trend, riders over 50 have accounted for the most deaths (12) followed by nine between the ages of 30 and 49. Four riders who have died were in their 20s, officials with the Department of Public Safety said.

"We don't know if it's older men who have taken time off and are just getting back into riding," said Megan Matthews in trying to pinpoint why older riders account for the high numbers of deaths.

As the number of deaths climb, state safety officials are urging motorcyclists of all ages to consider taking a safety course to sharpen their skills.

"Training can save a rider's life," said Bill Shaffer, program coordinator for the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center. "It teaches riders crash-avoidance techniques to stay safe on the road. You can never get too much training as a new rider, returning rider or experienced rider."

Training courses are offered through October, Matthews said.

A review of data shows that 17 of the 25 fatal crashes occurred in rural areas while four occurred in urban settings. The location of one of the fatal crashes was not reported. Eleven of the crashes happened with riders were negotiating a curve while three occurred when the motorcyclist failed to yield.

With the spike in crashes, public safety officials are asking motorcyclists to take safety into their own hands, and for motorists to be cautious when traveling.

"Motorcyclists and motorists need to work together to share the road to prevent more motorcycle fatalities," said Lt. Bob Zak of the Minnesota State Patrol. "It's really unfortunate that there are nine more motorcycle deaths than this time last year, and we need the public's help to keep this number from increasing."

Bike race, big events and closures will add to weekend traffic woes

 

 

Round two of the Cedar Avenue bridge repair project beginning Friday night might bring headaches for travelers in the south metro back while a weekend closure of the reversible carpool lanes on I-394 will throw a curve ball to fans heading to the Twins' homestand with the Chicago Cubs at Target Field.

Professional bicyclists participating in the North Star Grand Prix will be racing through streets in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood and Stillwater while drivers will face their own endurance test as road construction plus concerts, sporting events and big festivals draw thousands from out of town.

Significant traffic can be expect along Snelling Avenue and roads leading to the State Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday for the Back to the 50s, an extravaganza featuring thousands of street rods, customs and classic vehicles and big crowds that come to ogle them. With the Snelling Avenue bridge over I-94 and Snelling closed between I-94 and University Avenue closed, expect extra and slow-moving traffic on Hwy. 36, Cretin Avenue, Lexington Pkwy. and Larpenteur and Hamline Avenues.

Another stadium show Saturday at the University of Minnesota will create a niche of traffic on I-35W and I-94 in downtown Minneapolis, as well as on city streets leading to TCF Bank Stadium. Look for traffic levels to build up starting a few hours before Luke Bryan's 4:30 p.m. show.

Transit users will find no major service disruptions, but with events at Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium and a Saints home game at CHS Field in St. Paul on Saturday, light-rail and Northstar trains could be more crowded than usual.  The Lynx have a home game Sunday at Target Center.

Red Line service will operate every 30 minutes instead of every 15 minutes due to construction on Cedar Avenue.

Here is what you need to know as you move around the metro area this weekend, with construction news first followed by tips on getting to the weekend's large events:

Cedar Avenue in the south metro

After motorists suffered through hour-long evening commutes last week when southbound lanes over the Minnesota River were closed, nobody is looking forward to the northbound closure that begins at 8 p.m. Friday. MnDOT will shut down the northbound lanes between Hwy. 13 and Old Shakopee Road until June 29. Northbound drivers also can expect periodic lane closures starting at 9 a.m. Friday and southbound drivers could see fewer lanes opens from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Motorists can use northbound I-35E to I-494 to cross the river, or  I-35W. Hwy. 13 remains closed through Mendota, so that is not a good alternate to reach I-494. Pilot Knob Road could work.

I-394 HOT lane

A repaving and concrete repair project will have the carpool lane closed between Hwy. 100 and downtown Minneapolis from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday. And again from 7 p.m. until 5 a.m. Monday. That's the same drill for June 26-29, too. During the closure, motorists and transit will share the general traffic lanes.

Work on the reversible HOT lanes precede a repaving and joint repair project that will bring two-week closures to both the westbound and eastbound general traffic lanes next month.

Hwy. 212 in Eden Prairie

Westbound motorists won't be able to exit at Shady Oak Road/County Road 61 until Thursday due to bridge reconstruction. The detour takes drivers to southbound Hwy. 169, then west on Valley View Road, or drivers can continue west on Hwy. 62 to Shady Oak Road. 

Additionally, motorists can expect temporary lane closures on Hwy. 212 near Shady Oak Road between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays.

I-35E in St. Paul

This ever-changing construction zone stretches from Little Canada Road to University Avenue in downtown St. Paul. The newest traffic change that recently went into effect is that Phalen Boulevard/Pennsylvania Avenue closes under I-35E.

Detour: Use Jackson Street, University Avenue, Lafayette Road, Tedesco Road, and Payne Avenue.

For the rest of the stretch, plan on two lanes open on the southbound side and three on the northbound side. A number of ramps are closed and be prepared for new lane configurations as you pass through the area.

  • Ramps from southbound 35E to eastbound Hwy. 36 until late August
  • Ramps from both directions of Hwy. 36 to southbound I-35E until late August
  • Ramps from Maryland and Roselawn Avenues to northbound I-35E until late August
  • Southbound I-35E to Maryland Avenue until late August
  • Little Canada Road to southbound I-35E until late August
  • Southbound I-35E to University Avenue. A temporary ramp from southbound I-35E to 12th Street is open for access to the Regions Hospital Area. The ramp from southbound I-35E to Pennsylvania Avenue remains open.
  • University Avenue to westbound 94 is closed
  • Both directions of Phalen Boulevard/Pennsylvania Avenue between approximately L’Orient Street and just east of Mississippi Street are reduced to a single lane
  • University Avenue to westbound I-94 is closed.
  • Northbound ramps to/from Phalen Boulevard are permanently closed.

Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park

The highway is reduced to two lanes in each direction between Cedar Lake Road and Excelsior Blvd.  Reminder that these ramps between Cedar Lake Road and Excelsior Blvd. remained closed:

  • Hwy 7 loop to southbound Hwy 100
  • Hwy 7 to northbound Hwy 100 closed through fall 2016. Detour to northbound Hwy 100: Excelsior Boulevard.
  • Minnetonka Boulevard to southbound Hwy 100
  • Minnetonka Boulevard to northbound Hwy 100
  • Northbound Hwy 100 to Minnetonka Boulevard closed.
  • 27th Street to southbound Hwy 100
  • Southbound Hwy 100 ramp to Minnetonka Boulevard

Snelling Avenue in St. Paul

This is not new, but a reminder for folks traveling in the Midway area of St. Paul. Snelling Avenue over I-94 is closed until late August. Traffic is being routed over to Lexington Avenue or along the official detour on Marshall and University Avenues, Vandalia Street and Cretin Avenue. Ramps to and from eastbound 94 are back open.

Hwy. 5/West 7th Street near Ft. Snelling

The road is down to a single lane in both directions between Ft. Snelling (Hwy. 55) to Shepard Road.

Additionally, eastbound Hwy. 5 ramps to Edgcumbe Road, Shepard Road and Mississippi River Boulevard are closed through late September.

The bridge over the Mississippi River is being redecked, Expect backups along W. 7th Street and onto the Mendota Bridge and back into St. Paul starting at Davern Street.

The best alternate might be to take I-35E to cross the Mississippi River, then scoot over on Hwy. 110 and skip W. 7th Street altogether.

Hwy. 13 in Mendota

Both directions of the highways are closed between 2nd Street and Lexington Avenue in Mendota at Lilydale. This will be in place until Aug. 22.  Detour is via I-35E and Hwy. 110.

Additionally, Hwy 13 between Lexington Avenue and I-35E may have intermittent lane closures with flaggers. Crews are working on utilities and drainage.

I-494 in Plymouth and Maple Grove

Two northbound lanes will be open and one southbound lane open Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon.  That's when MnDOT will slide the moveable barrier over to create a second southbound lane to accommodate folks returning from out of town. From Sunday afternoon until Monday afternoon, northbound traffic will be restricted to one lane.

Several ramp closures also are in place:

  • Carlson Parkway to southbound I-494
  • Carlson Parkway to northbound I-494.
  • Eastbound I-394 to northbound I-494
  • Southbound I-494 to westbound Hwy. 12
  • Southbound I-494 to Carlson Parkway

Hwy. 10 in Ramsey

Hwy. 10 near Armstrong Boulevard may have congestion related delays through October while Armstrong Boulevard is closed north of Hwy 10. A link to detours for drivers needing alternate routes can be found here.

Kellogg Boulevard in downtown St. Paul

Kellogg is closed between Market Street and Wabasha Street until November. Additionally, the southbound lanes on the Wabasha Bridge, and the northbound lanes of the Exchange Street viaduct will be shut down for the duration of the project.

During the closure, motorists will be directed to use 7th Street and Robert Street.

Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis

The intersection of Minnehaha Avenue and Nawadaha Blvd. is closed for the next three to four weeks. Motorists on E. Minnehaha Pkwy. are being detoured onto Godfrey Pkwy., north on 46th Avenue S and west on E. 46th Street.

This week the intersection of Minnehaha Avenue and 43rd Street closed for up to 10 days. Reconstruction of Minnehaha Avenue south of 42nd Street continues. 

Franklin Avenue bridge

Motor vehicle traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction across the Mississippi River

County Road 101 in Minnetonka and Wayzata

Earlier this month, Hennepin County closed County Road 101 from Minnetonka Boulevard (County Road 5) to Breezy Point Road in Minnetonka and Woodland. County Road 101 (Bushaway Road) is closed to through traffic. All non-local traffic should follow the marked detour using Minnetonka Boulevard, I-494, and Hwy. 12.

Minneapolis Parkways

Stone Arch Bridge Festival will have the following streets closed Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.:
SE Main Street from Merriam Street to 6th Avenue.
3rd Ave from 2nd Street to SE Main St. (Access for Residents)
6th Ave from 2nd Street to Stone Arch Bridge (Access for Residents)
 

On Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.:  SE Main Street from Hennepin Ave to 6th Avenue
Merriam Ave (Bridge), 3rd Ave from 2nd Street to SE Main St. (Access for Residents), 6th Ave from 2nd Street to Stone Arch Bridge (Access for Residents)
 
Lake Calhoun Parkway: All around the lake, 7:30 a.m. to noon  Saturday for Kids Against Hunger races.
 
Nokomis Parkway, all around the lake from 7:30 a.m. to noon  Sunday for the Gridiron Gallop Run/Walk.
 

I-94 in St. Michael

Motorists heading out of town for the weekend might encounter delays on I-94. The same is true on the return trip.  MnDOT is repaving the freeway between Hwy. 241 in St. Michael and County Road 18 near Monticello.  Nightly lane closures will be in place from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. while crews resurface nine miles of the roadway.   Also be aware of a lane shift near the Crow River Bridge.

Hwy. 5 in Carver County

West metro drivers on Hwy. 5 have two closures: in Waconia between County Road 10 and Oak Avenue until Aug. 1, and in Victoria between E. Scandia Road and County Road 11 until September.

Hwy. 169 in Jordan

Hwy. 169 between Hwy. 21 and Hwy. 282 is reduced to a single lane and a speed limit of 45 miles per hour through late October.

North Star Grand Prix

The starting gun for the Minneapolis Criterium goes off at 6:15 p.m. Friday but expect crowds and road closures in the Uptown area to be in place long before. The official race course will impact traffic on Hennepin Avenue between Lake Street and 32nd Street, on Lake Street between Hennepin and Irving Avenues. Some neighborhood streets will be impacted, too.

The action shifts to Stillwater on Sunday. Getting to the historic St. Croix River town is always a tough chore, even without a huge bike race. With construction on Hwy. 36, traffic is often gridlocked back to Oak Park Heights. To avoid the mess, head north on Hwy. 15/Manning Avenue to County Road 12/75th Street. Then take a right and that will take you into Stillwater.  County 12 becomes Myrtle Avenue inside the city boundaries

Parking is always a challenge in Stillwater. The best option is probably the city run ramp off Myrtle between 2nd and 3rd Streets.

Luke Bryan at TCF Bank Stadium

Country music sensation Luke Bryan will draw big crowds the University of Minnesota campus, and lots of extra traffic, too. The show is at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The going rate for those who drive and park on campus will be $20 at Oak Street, 4th Street and Washington Avenue ramps. Rates go into effect 2 to 4 hours before the show,  To save $5, go online and buy a parking pass  (available until noon Saturday) from the University of Minnesota Parking and Transportation Services.

For cheaper parking options, use the East River Road Garage, Weisman Art Museum Garage or 19th Avenue Ramp. Those facilities do not charge event rates.  The hourly rate in effect has a maximum of $12.

Metro Transit provided 15,000 rides on the Green Line to and from the Rolling Stones concert on June 3. It's a simple way to get there without having to battle traffic. The nearest rail stop is at Stadium Village right outside the TCF Bank Stadium. But it might be worth the walk to the East Bank Station a few blocks away. The platform will likely be less crowded. Be sure to buy an event pass when boarding, or get a Family Pass or individual pass in advance online. Parking pass sales end at noon Saturday.

Back to the 50s

To ease congestion around the fairgrounds, event organizers will offer a free park and ride shuttle from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday only. Buses will depart from a lot south of the fairgrounds at ETC, on Energy Park Drive east of Snelling Avenue. 

Another bus will run to and from the Minnesota Department of Education, off Hwy. 36 and Hamline Avenue in Roseville.

Drivers can plan on crowded roads, kind of like the State Fair, so plan accordingly. Metro Transit's Route 84 serves the fairgrounds, just a short distance north of the Green Line. Transfer at University and Snelling Avenues.