Transit riders will have a new way to get around starting Saturday when Metro Transit launches service on the region's first urban bus rapid transit line while schedule changes kick in on other routes, including two which will begin all-night service.
A ribbon cutting will mark the opening of A-Line, which mimics light-rail trains by using specially-built buses that stop at specific stops and platforms. Service along Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway from Rosedale Center to the 46th Street LRT Station in Minneapolis- largely the current Route 84 - begins at 10 a.m. Free rides will be offered Saturday through Monday.
Letting somebody else drive might not be a bad idea as the weekend serves up a heat wave along with a plethora of road work. A shut down of northbound Hwy. 100 could be the biggest inconvenience for motorists, but there are plenty of other cone zones to watch out for.
Look out for tight traffic around Century College in White Bear Lake, the finish line for the MS 150 Bike Ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities on Sunday. The Twins end a home stand with games against Boston Friday through Sunday at Target Field in downtown Minneapolis. Next door at Target Center, Cage the Elephant holds court Friday night and the Avett Bros. play Saturday.
Here is where you encounter cone zones and possible traffic snarls:
1. Hwy. 100: Since Wednesday night, the northbound traffic has been reduced to a single lane between 50th and 44th streets. At 10 p.m. Friday, all northbound lanes between the Crosstown and I-394 will shut down until 5 a.m. Monday. Southbound lanes will remain open, but are reduced to two lanes from W. 36th Street and Crosstown Hwy. 62.
2. I-94 in Rogers: Both directions will be reduced to two lanes from Hwy. 101 to west of Hwy. 241 through June 22 during non-peak periods.
3. I-494: Traffic between Fish Lake Road in Maple Grove and Hwy. 55 in Plymouth has been shifted to the southbound side of the freeway and is reduced to two lanes each direction until Nov. 4. There are several ramp closures at the I-394 and County Road 6 and Carlson Pkwy. interchanges.
4. I-35E: Intermittent lane closures nightly from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. on I-35E between Hwy 96 to County Rd J.
5. I-35W in Arden Hills: Watch for narrow lanes and lane shifts in both directions in the vicinity of County Road H. Bridge construction also will constrict traffic flow at County Road E2.
6. I-35W in Minneapolis: The following bridges over I-35W have lane closures: Eastbound Hennepin Avenue, Westbound Broadway Street and southbound Johnson Street.
7. I-694: Westbound lanes are split with a concrete median between I-35E and Lexington Avenue.
8. Hwy. 280: Closed between Broadway and I-35W and lanes reduced between I-94 and Broadway for the next few weeks. Ramps at Como and Larpenteur avenues have opened.
9. Hwy. 36 and Lexington Av.: Traffic has been shifted to the new bypass on the south side of Hwy. 36 as crews being replacing the overpass on eastbound Hwy. 36. The ramp from Dale Street to westbound Hwy. 36 is closed as are all ramps at Lexington Avenue under Hwy. 36.
10. Hwy. 5: Traffic is sharing the eastbound side of the bridge as crews rebuild the westbound side. It’s single lane traffic between Davern Street and Hwy. 55 through November. Some ramps are closed.
11. I-94 St. Paul to Woodbury: The resurfacing project between E. 7th Street and Century Avenue will last until the end of 2017. The left lane on westbound I-94 from Century Avenue to Mounds Blvd. is closed. Look for ramp closures at Ruth Street to westbound I-94, White Bear Avenue to eastbound 94,McKnight Road to eastbound I-94, Century Avenue to eastbound I-94 and westbound I-94 to Century. Also, the ramp from eastbound I-94 to E. 7th Street remains closed. To access downtown St. Paul, try 5th or 10th streets.
12. I-94 in the Midway: Bridges over Victoria Street and Prior Avenue remain closed; Cretin Avenue opened Tuesday and Pascal Avenue is set to open Friday night.
13. The Franklin Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis is closed until Labor Day weekend.
14. Minnehaha Avenue is closed between 34th and 38th streets in south Minneapolis.
15. Hwy. 8: The highway is closed between the south junction of Hwy. 95 in Franconia Township and downtown Taylors Falls. The road is open to local traffic.
A ribbon cutting and speeches by transportation and local dignitaries from 9:20 to 10 a.m. at the Snelling and University Avenue Station will be part of the festivities marking the grand opening of the A-Line. The BRT line will offer service every 10 minutes at most hours of the day, and offer trips that are quicker than on traditional buses, Metro Transit said.
Like on light-rail trains, passengers pay for tickets in advance at vending machines on the platform or swipe their transit cards before boarding. Buses have wider doors and aisles so more people can get on and off easily and quickly.
Route 10 riders will now be able to catch a ride 24 hours as Metro Transit begins hourly overnight service between downtown Minneapolis and Columbia Heights Transit Center. Route 18 through south Minneapolis also will run hourly overnight service. Route 30 riders can look forward to weekend service along West Broadway and Broadway street.
Blue and Green Line trains will be offline between Franklin Avenue and Target Field Station from 9 p.m. to Sunday to 3:30 a.m. Monday. Buses will operate in place of trains, so allow extra time to complete your trip, Metro Transit said.