Commuters who use the park-and-ride lot on the southwest quadrant of Lake Street and Hiawatha Avenue S. will have to find a new place to leave their vehicles.

Metro Transit said it will close the 143-stall Lake Street/Midtown Park and Ride effective March 7.

The lot is popular with Blue Line riders, who can catch the train at the nearby Lake Street/Midtown Station. The station is also served by bus routes 21, 27 and 53.

Metro Transit is directing Blue Line customers to use free park-and-ride lots at Fort Snelling Station, or to consider using bus routes 7, 9, 11,14, 18 and 22, which provide connections from Lake Street to downtown Minneapolis and to Richfield and Bloomington.

The park-and-ride lot was never meant to be permanent, according to a traffic demand study conducted in December by Westwood Professional Services, which found that the Corcoran Neighborhood Organization states that Metro Transit established the lot in 2004 as a "temporary amenity" and that it was to be phased out as park-and-ride lots were opened outside the urban core.

However, it's been very popular. The Westwood study found that the lot was always fully occupied during peak morning and afternoon periods.

The park-and-ride lot and a building that once housed programs for the Minneapolis Public Schools is expected to give way to a mixed development plan that would include a new county service center, affordable housing, retail space and a transit plaza. The redevelopment, known as the L&H Station, is awaiting final approval.

Tim Harlow