Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans will descend on the State Fair when it opens next week, and transit providers and construction crews are hustling to make sure people can get there without much delay.
A Ramsey County road maintenance project on Larpenteur Avenue will be temporarily suspended by Thursday, county spokesman John Siqveland said, noting that the department negotiates with contractors to avoid work during the fair dates — Aug. 22 through Labor Day this year. Work will resume after the fair.
“But if any projects aren’t concluded by that time, then we will suspend them and complete them when the fair is over,” he said.
Driving may be an option for some fair attendees, but fair spokeswoman Danielle Dullinger said the parking lots, with about 7,000 spaces and a $15 cash-only fee, tend to fill quickly. So taking the bus tends to be the best option.
According to Dullinger, more than 50% of people who make it to the fair take one of the bus options available: a free park and ride shuttle bus provided by the fair, or express bus service operated by Metro Transit, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority, and SouthWest Transit.
New bus pickup sites
The free State Fair shuttles operate from 8 a.m. to midnight from 34 parking lots. New pickup sites this year include Allianz Field on Snelling Avenue and Grace Lutheran Church on Old Hudson Road in St. Paul.
People who live farther away can take express bus service with free parking but a cost to ride.
Metro Transit will offer round-trip service for $6 beginning at 9 a.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. on weekends and Labor Day, spokesperson Drew Kerr said. He urged people to purchase their tickets in advance on the Metro Transit mobile app or website to get a $1 discount. Locations running buses daily every 15 minutes include Maplewood Mall Transit Center and a stop across from the Mall of America east parking ramp.
This year, Minnesota Valley Transit Authority will add six more buses during peak times, spokesman Richard Crawford said. It provides direct service from Burnsville and Eagan every day of the fair and from Shakopee on weekends and Labor Day; riders will pay $6.
Riders need to have exact cash, as bus drivers will not have change.
Hourly service from Burnsville Transit Station begins at 7 a.m. on weekdays; from Eagan Transit Station, hourly weekday service starts at 10 a.m. Buses from both stations will run every half-hour on weekends and Labor Day.
Buses from Shakopee’s Marschall Road Transit Station will depart every hour on weekends and Labor Day only, starting at 8 a.m.