Commuting patterns for about 3,000 motorists in downtown Minneapolis changed Monday when 5th Street near the Vikings' new stadium shut down between 11th Avenue and Park Avenue.
The street will eventually reopen, but not for several months as both 5th and 6th Street are reconfigured.
During 5th Street's closure westbound motorists 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. The ramp from westbound 94 to 5th Street will remain open. That ramp is used by 9,000 drivers a day. About 6,000 drivers already scoot over to 7th Street or Washington Avenue, so those streets will see more traffic.
Here is what is happening: Fifth Street will be reduced to a single westbound lane between 11th Avenue and Park Avenue, meaning once the project is done, 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.
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.
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.
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