President Donald Trump is bringing his “Keep America Great” rally to downtown Minneapolis Thursday evening, and city officials are bracing for traffic volumes on par with those seen during the Super Bowl and Final Four.
Thousands of people are expected to come downtown — to attend the rally and to protest — and they will have to navigate closed roads and transit detours to do so. There will also be some delays at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to accommodate separate flights for the president and Vice President Mike Pence, who will visit Lakeville before traveling to the rally downtown.
“We can expect significant congestion,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. “With 200,000 people working downtown, plus residents, come 2 to 3 p.m. it will become challenging.”
Some streets within a few blocks of Target Center, where the rally will be held, will shut down starting Wednesday night, sealing off key routes into downtown and forcing motorists to squeeze onto other city streets.
But downtown won’t be the only challenge for drivers. Two motorcades — one for Trump and one for Pence — will bring sudden and intermittent rolling freeway closures Thursday. Pence will arrive first around 4 p.m. Trump is expected to land about an hour later. Their exact routes have not been released.
Alternate modes of transportation won’t operate as normal, either: Several Metro Transit buses that run near Target Center will be rerouted for part of the day. Shared scooters will not be available in Minneapolis on Thursday. Nice Ride stations and dockless bicycle hubs will also be out of service in the area near Target Center.
“Both vehicular and pedestrian traffic will be significantly reduced around the Target Center in order to increase the public safety for all,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said in a statement Tuesday.
Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, said it will be more challenging close to Target Center. Some businesses have said they will close for the day and others will close early, while some are encouraging employees to work at home, he said.
Operators of the Cradle Club day care inside Butler Square across from Target Center said it will close for the day. The predicted traffic jams and street closures would make it too hard for parents to pick up their kids up on time and make it too difficult for staff to get out of downtown, said Assistant Director Sharita Boswell.
The Butler Quarter Postal Station, also in the building, will close at noon Thursday due to the rally, said spokeswoman Kristy Anderson. Customers will be directed to use the Loring Station post office located on N. 12th Street.
But a performance of “Mean Girls” at the Orpheum Theatre will go on as scheduled. Ticket holders are being warned to come well before the 7 p.m. curtain. “Parking is expected to be extremely difficult,” an advisory on the theater’s website read. “Consider using light rail or bicycle if possible.”
Here are some of the closures and delays to watch for:
The following roads in downtown Minneapolis will be closed starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday:
• 1st Avenue N. between 6th and 8th streets
• 2nd Avenue N. between 5th and 10th streets.
• N. 6th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues N.
• N. 7th Street between Hennepin Avenue and N. 10th Street.
• Twins Way between N. 7th and N. 10th streets.
The ABC parking ramps will remain open, but entrances to Ramp A and B from Interstate 394 will close at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Transit on detour
Metro Transit had posted rider alerts at some downtown bus stops Tuesday and will release more information Wednesday about bus detours.
“In the perimeter, there will be detours as we have bus stops in that area,” said spokesman Howie Padilla. “We will communicate with our riders.”
He encouraged passengers to check the agency’s Rider Alerts page, where any changes to service for bus routes and the Northstar or light-rail trains will be posted.
Travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport should expect short delays when the flights carrying the president and vice president land and take off, said airport spokesman Patrick Hogan.
The entire airfield will shut down for about 15 minutes at a time, from when the flights arrive until the president and vice president are off airport property. Because Trump and Pence are flying separately, shutdowns will happen four times during the day.
“It’s usually a quick operation,” Hogan said. “It’s pretty routine.”
Check-in and passenger security screening inside the terminal will continue as normal all day, Hogan said.