Downtown St. Paul will have its share of traffic this weekend - both the vehicular and pedestrian variety - as tens of thousands of people are expected to stream in to the Capital City for festivities on the opening weekend of the St. Paul Winter Carnival and for the Red Bull Crashed Ice races.
A college hockey tournament also will bring scores of fans to the Xcel Energy Center. So anybody heading into St. Paul can expect to encounter congestion and delays Friday and Saturday.
Getting around downtown Minneapolis won't be nearly as challenging, but the area around Target Field and Target Center could be busy. Baseball fans will flock stadium for Twinsfest Friday through Sunday. The Timberwolves have a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at 7 p.m. Friday at Target Center.
IN ST. PAUL
Visit St. Paul, the city's convention and visitor's bureau, says "January 24 will be an awesome day," with the King Boreas Grand Day Parade at 2 p.m., finals of the North Star College Cup at 4 and 7 p.m., and the championship rounds of the ice cross downhill competition near the Cathedral of St. Paul. More than 100,000 people are expected to watch the races, which features skaters competing in four-man heats in a race to the bottom of a long ice track full of obstacles.
Traffic could be a real bear, so give yourself plenty of time to get to your event.Also note that W. 7th will be closed from Walnut St. to Kellogg Blvd. and traffic will be diverted to Smith Avenue and Exchange Street. Other street closures include: John Ireland Blvd, Dayton Ave, Marshall Ave, Old Kellogg Blvd, Summit Ave, Mullberry Street, Selby Ave, and Louis Street
Parking will be at a premium, and those who dare to drive downtown can expect to pay $10-30, according Visit St. Paul.
A better option might be to take Metro Transit, which is providing free rides on buses and light-rail lines from noon to 6 p.m. for those taking in the parade, and from 1 p.m. to midnight for those heading to Crashed Ice. To take advantage of the offer, riders must have a transit pass, which is available on the agency's website. The Green Line stops at Central Station in downtown St. Paul, right in the heart of all the action
More than 40 restaurants also will provide free shuttles to Crashed Ice.
If you do come by car, our friends at Visit St. Paul put together these suggested routes:
94 EAST: If you are headed into Saint Paul on I94, take the 5th Street exit after KELLOGG which may be faster. It will spit you into downtown to W. 7th St and avoid some congestion near the Crashed Ice competition site.
94 WEST: take the 6th Street exit into downtown instead of the Marion Street exit. Sixth Street will bring you through downtown to W. 7th Street and past several parking ramp options
35E NORTH: If you are headed into Saint Paul on northbound I-35E take the Shepherd Road exit instead of driving up to the Grand Avenue or Kellogg Blvd exits. On Shepherd Road, drive up to Eagle Pkwy (near the Sciene Museum), then turn left to downtown.
35E SOUTH: If you are headed into Saint Paul on southbound I-35E, us the 10th ST/Wacouta Street exit, and follow Wacouta to W. 7th Street. Turn right to the Xcel Energy Center.
A taxi is always an option, but so is Uber, the mobile application that connects drivers with riders. Visit St. Paul says that anybody who signs up for the service with the code STPAUL will get $20 off their first ride. The app is at www.uber.com/app