The beginning of a busy road construction season in Minneapolis is expected to bring a lot of detours and delays for travelers.
A series of road closures, resurfacing projects and detours will squeeze inner-city traffic into different lanes this summer in the wake of booming development and megaprojects, like the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Citywide, more than 50 miles of roadway will get face-lifts, and Minneapolis officials say much of the work will be downtown and underground.
“There is a fair amount of utilities work happening downtown and around the city in conjunction with some of these projects,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said at a news conference kicking off the road construction season. “That happens every year, but I think this year [brings] some distinct [work].”
With construction on the $1 billion new Vikings stadium and plans for redesigning Nicollet Mall underway, downtown Minneapolis is the main focus of the city’s street construction in the coming months. Minneapolis officials said much of the road work will be on buried lines to prepare for future construction on those projects.
“We’re trying to get ahead of that development by getting in and [doing] the utilities that need to be done,” Minneapolis Public Works Director Steve Kotke said. “Downtown East is bursting with the stadium and getting all of that prep work done is probably [what’s going to] cause most of the activity this summer.”
Crews will be updating utility lines underneath Nicollet Mall before the entire roadway faces an overhaul.
“We [are preparing] for the full construction that’s going to be happening there,” Hodges said. “That’s just an exciting hallmark.”
On the Hennepin-Lyndale corridor, city crews will be updating a sewer line underneath the Loring Bike trail and alongside the Lowry Hill Tunnel to prepare for next year when they will reconstruct the corridor itself.
City officials plan to resurface more than 30 miles of streets this summer, most of which are in the Powderhorn West and Penn/McKinley neighborhoods.
One of the other targeted areas for resurfacing is on LaSalle Avenue where crews will start work from S. 8th Street to 12th Street later in April.
Kotke said resurfacing work affects traffic flow only for a few days and ensures a street’s life for at least another decade.
Reconstruction projects, which generally take more time and bring more dramatic route changes, will affect 3.28 miles of Minneapolis streets, while 20 other miles will be seal coated for protection against future damage.
City officials say this summer’s resurfacing and reconstruction projects will cost about $14 million, and the upcoming bridge repairs — which will affect the St. Anthony Parkway Bridge, Burnham Road Bridge and 11th Avenue South Bridge — and utility work are separate costs.
Besides downtown, summer street construction will affect areas ranging from Dinkytown’s SE. 8th Street near the University of Minnesota to Minnehaha Avenue, between 24th Street and 26th Street.
Members of the city committee charged with assessing Minneapolis’ outdated infrastructure and creating long-term improvement plans are beginning discussions in April, Hodges said, and will continue to make recommendations on how to prioritize the city’s spending in the future.
City Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the downtown area that will undergo the major construction projects, said the road construction season will bring many inconveniences, but he reassured motorists, “it will be worth it in the end.”
Jessica Lee is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.