Transportation notebook

46th Street bridge to come down

As soon as the Diamond Lake Bridge is rebuilt, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) workers plan to take down the 46th Street Bridge over I-35W as part of the Crosstown Reconstruction project. The move will happen in early to mid-December, depending on weather and construction schedules, and may require a weekend closure. 46th Street entrance and exit ramps may remain open if the Diamond Lake Bridge ramps are still closed. The 50th Street bridge is expected to reopen in the end of 2008.

On Nov. 28 from 6–8 p.m., MnDOT is holding an open house to provide information about the 46th Street Bridge closure at Field Community School, 4645 4th Ave. S.

Snow Emergency information

It’s getting colder outside and snow is on the way, which means thousands of drivers in Minneapolis will be faced with the challenge of where to put their cars. The city has sent out 175,000 brochures with information about street closures during snow emergencies and what to do if your vehicle gets towed. To find the information online, visit www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/snow.

The Impound Lot in Bryn Mawr has shifted around its hours to make more staff available during the day. It’s now open from 8 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m.–5 p.m. on Sunday. During snow emergencies, the lot is open 24 hours for the first two days following the emergency, closing at 1 a.m. on the third day.

New Midtown Greenway bridge

On Nov. 8, the Midtown Greenway got a little longer with the opening of a new cable-stayed bridge over Hiawatha Avenue and the light rail line in South Minneapolis. The 4,800-foot structure has more than four miles of cable railing reaching toward the sky like long spider legs. It was created with roughly 3,200 tons of concrete and 400,000 pounds of structural steel and rebar. Five and a half miles long, the greenway stretches from France Avenue on the western edge of Minneapolis to the Mississippi River.

City sells five parking ramps

In late October, the city finalized the sale of Centre Village, Downtown East, Seven Corners, Loring and Gateway municipal parking ramps to Alatus Management, LLC for $65 million. As part of the agreement, the company will construct new, (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) LEED-certified developments at or near to at least two of the ramps. They’re considering the possibility of building liner housing around the Loring Ramp; housing, retail or office space at the Downtown East site; and housing adjacent to the Seven Corners ramp.

According to a statement from Mayor R.T. Rybak’s office, "The sales will allow Minneapolis to pay down debt on its parking system and improve the financial picture of the City’s Parking Fund, which is used to fund operation of the municipal ramps, parking lots, parking meters, and impound lot."

The city now has 18 ramps and six lots — more than 25,000 parking spaces — but sales are pending for the Federal Courthouse, St. Anthony, and Riverfront ramps.

Reach Mary O’Regan at moregan@mnpubs.com or 436-5088.

Transportation notebook

City of bikes

We’re already the No. 2 bicycling city in the country, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, but new numbers indicate that there are more bikers than ever tooling around Minneapolis.

In September, Public Works and local nonprofit Transit for Livable Communities (TLC), conducted bicycle and pedestrian counts at 57 locations across the city. Seventy-one volunteers and Metro Transit, city and AmeriCorps employees tracked car-free commuters for five days and found many increases over the previous 2003 counts.

Counters recorded the following estimations of the average number of daily bicyclists in Southwest:

• Midtown Greenway between Hennepin and Humboldt Avenues proved to be one of the most traveled routes in the city with an estimated 2,011 cyclists daily, a 159 percent increase in four years;

• 1,010 cyclists cruise down the Cedar Lake Trail under I-394;

• 910 bikers use the Loring Bikeway under I-94;

• 360 riders take Hennepin Avenue between 28th and Lake streets;

• 310 bikers sail across the Loring Bikeway Bridge;

• 270 cyclists use Bryant Avenue between 32nd and 33rd streets;

• 40 bikers take Lyndale Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets; and

• 150 riders use the 40th Street pedestrian bridge over I-35W.

In terms of foot traffic, results showed that Hennepin Avenue between 28th and Lake Streets sees some of the most pedestrians in Minneapolis with 2,270 daily walkers. By comparison, Nicollet Mall between 6th and 7th Streets gets an average of 17,890 pedestrians every day.

Seventy percent of cyclists in Minneapolis choose routes based on the availability of bike lanes, TLC reported, but they also place a high priority on direct access to their destinations. The report also concludes that most crashes take place in intersections that don’t have special bike facilities.

This summer, Bike/Walk Twin Cities, a TLC initiative, received $7.3 million for bicycle and pedestrian project funding, which includes adding bike lanes to South Bryant, Glenwood, 1st, and Blaisdell avenues. The program is part of a four-year, $21.5 million plan spread out over four states from the 2005 federal transportation bill,
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Central Corridor LRT faces key issues

The Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) project — an 11-mile stretch along University and Washington Avenues that will connect the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul — has numerous issues to address before construction can begin in 2010. Among many factors, engineers must determine the location of the East and West Bank and Stadium Village stations; the ability of the Washington Avenue Bridge to carry LRT trains; how much reconstruction University Avenue could need; whether to build on the street level or construct tunnels under the University of Minnesota; and how to deal with the loss of on-street parking.

To help research the impact of running LRT through a college campus, members of the Central Corridor Management Committee — which includes Mayor R.T. Rybak — are visiting the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Nov. 5, as the school has a street-level LRT line. The following day, the committee will visit San Diego State University, which has a tunnel underneath its campus.

This fall, the Central Corridor added a new staff member with whom some Minnesotans might be familiar. Former Vikings defensive back Joey Brewer has joined the organization as a member of the outreach staff. The footballer, who speaks fluent Spanish and English, has worked as an events coordinator in his post-NFL career.

The roughly $1 billion project is half funded by the federal government, with the rest of the money coming from the state and Hennepin and Ramsey Counties. In order to meet federal funding requirements, the engineers must figure out how to cut costs by $200 million by 2009. With 16 stations and five stops shared with the Hiawatha LRT, the Central Corridor could be up and running by 2014.

Northstar approved for federal funding grant

In early October, the Federal Transit Administration, Office of the Secretary of Transportation, and Office of Management and Budget approved the Northstar Commuter Rail’s request for a full funding grant agreement. The grant will account for nearly half of the project’s $289.1 million cost, with the remainder of the money coming from state and local governments.

Currently, crews are working to reconstruct the south half of the North 5th Street bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad, which will connect Northstar with the Hiawatha LRT. Demolition of the portion of the bridge that goes over I-394 is scheduled to begin later this fall.

The 40-mile rail line will connect Downtown with Big Lake, Minn. along Hwy. 10 with stops in Elk River, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley and a potential future route to St. Cloud. More than 5,000 people are expected to ride the rain daily once it opens in 2009. Tickets will cost $4–$6 per ride with amenities including worktables, power outlets, restrooms and individual seats.

Contact Mary O’Regan at moregan@mnpubs.com or 436-5088.