The signs greeting motorists exiting from westbound I-94 to 5th Street in downtown Minneapolis are right. Work on reconfiguring 5th and 6th Streets near the new Vikings' stadium begins Monday March 30, two days earlier than originally announced, said Jeff Handeland an engineer with the Minneapolis Public Works Department.

While Fifth Street between 11th Avenue and Park Avenue will be closed, 6th Street will remain open.

Westbound motorists on 5th Street 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.

Here is what is happening: Fifth Street will be reduced to a single westbound lane between 11th Avenue and Park Avenue, meaning 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. Currently about 9,000 motorists exit I-94 at 5th Street, but 6,000 of them turn at 11th Avenue. About 3,000 continue west on 5th Street around the site of the new stadium.

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.

"When the construction is complete, I think people are going to like the improvements," Handeland said. " Since 7th Street crosses the entire length of downtown without interruption, traffic exiting here will have better access to downtown Minneapolis stores, restaurants, businesses and other destinations."

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.

Closing is set for sometime in April, but street construction will get underway before the final documents are signed.

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.


 

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