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Shutdown on Hwy. 61, sporting events could hamper weekend traffic

Fans heading to this weekend’s Lowertown Blues and Funk Fest in St. Paul's Mears Park might not be the only ones singing the blues. Drivers on Hwy. 61 in Cottage Grove where a bridge project has the potential to spawn big backups might be, too.

On the sports scene, the Twins and Saints are home for weekend series. The Loons play Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium. Look for closures along the routes of the Selby-Mackubin and Sprint Bike races and Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue for Sunday’s Open Streets in Minneapolis.

Here is where you will encounter road construction:

Interstate 94 in Minneapolis and St. Paul
1. I-94 from Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center: All vehicles over 9,000 pounds are prohibited from the Lowry Hill Tunnel which is reduced to two lanes in each direction with traffic sharing the eastbound lanes. The ramps from westbound 94 to westbound 394 and Hwy. 55 and from northbound I-35W to westbound I-94 are closed. Lane restrictions between I-35W and Hwy. 252/Shingle Creek Parkway.

2. I-94 from St. Paul to Maplewood: Eastbound has the left lane set aside for through traffic while the far right lane is for drivers who want to access local streets. Lane and restrictions and ramp closures between Century Avenue and Mounds Boulevard.

3. Cedar and Portland avenues: Closed between 28th and Lake streets.

4. 3rd Avenue S.: Single lane between 1st and 2nd streets Saturday and Sunday; lane closures on Washington Avenue between 3rd and 5th avenues S.

East Metro
5. Hwy. 51/Snelling Avenue in Falcon Heights: Single lane in each direction between Como Avenue and Hwy. 36.

6. I-35E in St. Paul: Lane restrictions in the vicinity of Shepard Road.

7. Hwy. 110 in Mendota Heights: Eastbound lanes closed between I-35E and I-494. Ramp from Hwy. 3/Robert Street to eastbound I-494 is closed through Monday. Lane closures on westbound Hwy 110 between I-35E and Sunfish Lane.

8. Hwy. 61 in Cottage Grove: The bridge over Innovation Road/County Road 19 will be closed. Traffic will be routed up and down exit and entrance ramps 7 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday.

9. Hwy. 95 in Afton: Southbound lanes between 15th and 21st streets.

North Metro
10. Eastbound 694 in Shoreview: Restricted to two lanes separated by a concrete barrier between Hwy. 10 and I-35E. The inside lane carries through traffic and drivers must continue east on I-694. The outside/right lane allows access to local streets and drivers must continue south on I-35E. Westbound traffic is down to two lanes. Ramp closures at Rice Street and Lexington Avenue.

11. I-35W at Hwy. 10 in Arden Hills: The ramps from westbound Hwy. 10 to northbound I-35W and northbound I-35W to County Road I are closed.

West Metro
12. Hwy. 169 in Edina and St. Louis Park: The Nine Mile Creek bridge between Bren Road and Lincoln Drive/5th Street is closed and the highway is single lane between I-394 and Excelsior Boulevard. The ramp from westbound I-394 to southbound Hwy. 169 is closed through October. Ramp from Medicine Lake Road to south Hwy. 169 is closed.

South Metro
13. 66th Street in Richfield: Closed to through traffic between Girard and Xerxes avenues S. The project extends from Xerxes Avenue on the west end to 16th Avenue South on the east end.

14. 86th Street in Bloomington: The overpass at I-35W is closed through October.

15. Hwy. 13 in Burnsville and Savage: Lane closures in both directions between Hwy. 169 and Washburn Avenue.

16. Hwy. 55 in Inver Grove Heights: Lane restrictions in the vicinity of Argenta Trail.

Most don't want Metro Transit fare increase; Met Council to vote next week



The Metropolitan Council's proposal to raise bus fares drew more than 6,000 comments, and not surprisingly, the majority were against a plan to tack on another 25 or 50 cents per ride on regular-route bus service and light- and commuter- rail service.

Metro Mobility, the federally mandated transportation service for disabled people, and dial-a-ride transit services also would see an increase of 50 cents or 75 cents under plans presented last spring.

During a 10-week public comment period between April and June, the council received more than 4,400 emails, letters and postcards. Another 1,600 people filled out an online survey.

Those comments will be part of the discussion July 24 when the Transportation Committee meets to vote on a potential fare hike that would impact Metro Transit riders and those on other regional transit systems. If approved, the measure would move onto the full council for a vote on July 26.

The topic of raising bus fares rose last year when the council revealed it faced a $74 million shortfall and needed to raise revenue and possibly cut services to help balance the budget.

A 25-cent increase in regular-route transit fares would provide an additional $6.7 million in revenues during the first 12 months, the Met Council said. But the price would be a loss of an estimated 3.8 million riders. A 50-cent increase in Metro Mobility fares would raise $1.3 million in additional revenue during the first year.

Any fare increase could cost the average commuter who takes 40 rides a month $10 to $20 more per month.

Commenters expressed concern that a fare hike would hurt low-income riders. Commenters who classified themselves as low income said they would struggle to pay for transit and would likely take fewer trips.

Others said they could afford an increase but would choose other transportation options such as biking, walking or driving when possible. Some worried that if too many people ditched public transportation, the roads would become more congested and diminish environmental benefits transit delivers.

For those okay with a fare increase, many said there should not be any service cuts if they are enacted.

Transit fares were last raised in 2008.

The council also is grappling with how to cover more expenses with revenue at the fare box. Currently it is capturing a lower percentage of revenue through transit fares than it has historically, and that rate has fallen below the Council’s operating goal of 28.5 percent.