The first weekend of May brings the first big outdoor celebrations of the season in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but getting to them could be challenging as a long stretch of an east metro highway closes Friday night to Monday morning. Along with the Hwy. 36 closure, look for high-profile construction projects that could hamper travel on other routes.
Expect large crowds and extra traffic - both of vehicular and pedestrian variety - on St. Paul's west side Saturday where Cinco de Mayo fete takes place. The Festival of Nations takes over the St. Paul RiverCentre Friday through Sunday.
The Walk for Animals runs from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday along Theodore Wirth Parkway from Plymouth Ave to Hwy 55.
On Sunday, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre holds its annual May Day Parade and festival in Minneapolis.
The Twins are home with games against the Chicago White Sox Friday through Sunday at Target Field in Minneapolis and the Minnesota Swarm has a lacrosse match Saturday night against Rochester at 7 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Here's a rundown of this weekend's traffic impacts:
Cinco de Mayo
The revelry on St. Paul's West Side runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Floats, bands and authentic Mexican dancers and performers will be featured in the annual parade at 10 a.m. on Cesar Chavez Blvd. from Wabasha Street to Ada Street. Look for other street closures in the area.
MayDay Parade and Festival
The oversized puppets are always a big attraction, and they'll make their way down Bloomington Avenue from 25th Street to 34th Street at noon Sunday. Parade staging takes place on 25th Street starting at 11 a.m. A pageant with children and adult dancers, puppeteers, a live orchestra and four giant serene puppets participate in the annual Tree of Life Ceremony in Powderhorn Park. It attracts up to 50,000 people, so there will be a crush of traffic on nearby streets, such as Chicago, Bloomington and Cedar Avenues.
Hwy. 36 in Maplewood and Roseville
The newest road construction project is a weekend shut down of Hwy. 36 between I-35W and Hwy. 61. Both directions will be closed from 9 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. Eastbound motorists will be able to reach Rice Street. MnDOT will be tearing down the southbound I-35E bridge over Hwy. 36.
The official detour will take drivers along I-35W, I-694 and Hwy. 61.
I-35E in St. Paul and Maplewood
Commuters all week have been dealing with changes between Maryland Avenue and Little Canada Road, and more changes are in store. With traffic shifted to the northbound lanes - two for southbound drivers and three open to northbound drivers - a number of ramps will be closed until fall. Here is what is closed:
- Ramps from southbound 35E to eastbound Hwy. 36 and Roselawn Avenue
- Ramps from both directions of Hwy. 36 to southbound I-35E
- Ramps from Maryland and Roselawn Avenues to northbound I-35E
- Southbound I-35E to University Avenue. A temporary ramp from southbound I-35E to 12th Street is open for access to the Regions Hospital Area. The ramp from southbound I-35E to Pennsylvania Avenue remains open.
Hwy. 5/West 7th Street near Ft. Snelling
Already reduced to a single lane in both directions between Ft. Snelling (Hwy. 55) to Shepard Road, eastbound drivers will find nightly closures between Hwy. 55 and Davern Street. The barriers will be in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. nightly.
The official detour takes drivers on eastbound Hwy. 55 to eastbound Hwy. 110 to northbound 35E.
Westbound lanes will remain open 24 hours.
Additional eastbound ramp closures in the area include those at Edgcumbe Road, Shepard Road and Mississippi River Boulevard, all through late September.
The bridge over the Mississippi River is being redecked, Expect backups along W. 7th Street and onto the Mendota Bridge and back into St. Paul starting at Davern Street. We saw that occur during this week's morning and afternoon rush hours. Expect to add extra time if this is your route to the airport.
I-494 in Plymouth and Maple Grove
As if having the freeway constricted to one lane or two in each direction depending on the time of day, these new closures kick in this weekend:
- Carlson Parkway to southbound I-494
- Carlson Parkway to northbound I-494.
- Westbound I-394 to southbound I-494
- Eastbound I-394 to northbound I-494
- Southbound I-494 to westbound Hwy 12
- Southbound I-494 to Carlson Parkway
The rebuilding of I-494 from the Fish Lake Interchange down to Hwy. 55 continues. Two northbound lanes will be open and one southbound lane open Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. That's when MnDOT will slide the moveable barrier over to create a second southbound lane to accommodate folks returning from out of town. From Sunday afternoon until Monday afternoon, northbound traffic will be restricted to one lane.
In the same area, Hennepin County Road 47 between Yucca Lane and Teakwood Lane will be closed to traffic until late May. The closure is needed while crews reconstruct the southbound side of I-494 over County Road 47.
Here is the detour:
- Westbound traffic on County Road 47 will be detoured to northbound Northwest Boulevard and westbound Bass Lake Road and south on County Road 101.
- Eastbound traffic on County Road 47 will be detoured to northbound County Road 101/Brockton Lane and eastbound Bass Lake Road, then south on Northwest Boulevard.
Hwy. 100 through St. Louis Park
The highway has been slimmed down to two lanes in each direction between Cedar Lake Road and W. 36th Street. This has the potential to create bottlenecks, even on the weekend. so prepare to add extra time for your trip if this is your route.
The Minnetonka Boulevard Bridge over Hwy. 100 is being rebuilt. The road is between Salem and W Lake Street is closed through October.
A few drivers were caught off guard by ramp closures in the area. So take note of these closures, and if you need to access Hwy. 100 your safest bet is to use the ones at Excelsior Blvd.
The following ramps in the area are closed until October:
- Minnetonka Boulevard to southbound Hwy 100
- Minnetonka Boulevard to northbound Hwy 100
- Northbound Hwy 100 to Minnetonka Boulevard closed.
- 27th Street to southbound Hwy 100
- Southbound Hwy 100 ramp to Minnetonka Boulevard
- Hwy. 7 to northbound and southbound Hwy. 100
Fourth Street in downtown Minneapolis
A one-block segment of 4th Street between Portland and Park Avenues is closed. The closure will be in place until June, according to Minneapolis city officials.
Traffic will be detoured south on Portland Avenue to 6th Street, east on 6th to Park Avenue then north on Park back to 4th Street. The bike lane also will be closed.
For commuters looking to access I-35W, rather than taking the six-block detour, it might be easier to just scoot over to Washington Avenue or use 4th Avenue S. For drivers looking to get on westbound I-94, it might be just as easy to hit 3rd Street and leave on the west end of downtown.
I-35W in northeast Minneapolis
Delays are certainly possible on northbound I-35W between University Avenue and NE. Johnson Street. The freeway will go down to two lanes from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. During this time, the ramp to Johnson Street will be closed. MnDOT will be doing concrete work.
Southbound traffic will be reduced to two lanes from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday between Hennepin Avenue and University Avenue.
Further to the north, look for a left lane closure between Hwy. 10 and County Road H starting at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Minnehaha Avenue and 46th Street in Minneapolis
Construction has 46th Street down to one lane in each direction between Snelling Avenue and 42nd Avenue with traffic operating on the south side of the road.
West River Parkway in Minneapolis
In addition to the closure for the Get in Gear races (see above), West River Parkway is closed between 26th Street and 29th Street for repairs necessary due to last summer's mudslide.
Kellogg Boulevard in downtown St. Paul
Kellogg is closed between Market Street and Wabasha Street until November. Additionally, the southbound lanes on the Wabasha Bridge, and the northbound lanes of the Exchange Street viaduct will be shut down for the duration of the project.
During the closure, motorists will be directed to use 7th Street and Robert Street.
I-94 in St. Michael
Motorists heading out of town for the weekend might encounter delays on I-94. The same is true on the return trip. MnDOT is repaving the freeway between Hwy. 241 in St. Michael and County Road 18 near Monticello. Nightly lane closures will be in place from 7 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. while crews resurface nine miles of the roadway. Also be aware of a lane shift near the Crow River Bridge.
I-35 in Owatonna
Always a popular getaway route, I-35 in both directions in Owatonna will be reduced to a single lane for three miles between Exits 40 and 43, Airport Road. Major road construction will limit vehicle width to 11 feet until Nov. 14.
Head-to-head traffic means travelers can expect heavy congestion and long delays, mostly on Friday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon and evening.