Photo by Tim Harlow

In what has been a common occurrence this year, Metro Transit will once again shut down a portion of the Blue and Green light-rail lines in Minneapolis this weekend, but the 14- hour maintenance-related service interruption should be the last one for a while, a transit agency spokesman said.

From 10 p.m. Friday until noon Saturday, Blue Line trains will not run between Franklin Avenue Station and Target Field.  Green Line trains will not run between Stadium Village at the University of Minnesota and Target Field. Buses will fill in while trains are down to allow riders to complete their trips. Trains will run as normal elsewhere on both lines.

Metro Transit has spent several months upgrading the signal system used to direct trains onto the proper tracks in downtown Minneapolis. This weekend Metro Transit will give the system a test run, so trains will be rolling without riders from Friday night to midday Saturday.

"We can't have customers on in case we have to stop for some reason," said spokesman Drew Kerr.

Light-rail riders have endured several disruptions in 2017 as Metro Transit has replaced sections of tracks, upgraded switches and repaired concrete and overhead wires. The longest was an 11-day shutdown in June when the agency put in two new crossovers at Hennepin Avenue and Park Avenue. Crossovers allow trains to move from one track to another.

Recent shutdowns, such as last weekend's  - were necessary to allow crews to pull underground wires through and connect them to the signal system that is tied to the new crossovers and point train operators in the right direction. In short the signals are like traffic lights, Kerr said.

This year's upgrades were planned long before Metro Transit knew the Super Bowl was coming to Minneapolis, Kerr said. It's more of a fact that the line through downtown Minneapolis is 13 years old.

"The Blue Line is aging and with that comes maintenance on an ongoing basis," Kerr said. "It's to maintain the integrity of the system."

No major upgrades are planned for 2018 so riders should not see as many disruptions as they have this summer and fall. Hooray.

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