46th Street bridge demolition postponed
Officials in charge of the Crosstown Reconstruction project have decided not to demolish the 46th Street bridge this year. According to resident engineer Steve Barrett, waiting to take the bridge down until March or April 2008 will give workers a better time buffer.
Contractually, they have 460 days from the time the old bridge comes down to get the new bridge built, and weren’t sure they’d meet the deadline if demolition began this year. Barrett said they hope to have the new 46th Street bridge up by next fall, but it could carry over into 2009. The demolition delay will not affect the overall Crosstown Reconstruction schedule.
Instead, work will continue to focus on building retaining walls this winter. Workers are also trying to get all of the Diamond Lake Road ramps open before the end of the year. Starting in mid-December, the 46th Street ramps to and from southbound Interstate 35W will be closed until 2010 and the ramps to and from northbound I-35W will be closed until 2009. At the end of December, the ramp from eastbound Highway 62 to Lyndale Avenue will close until September 2009. Additionally, the 50th Street bridge is scheduled to reopen in fall 2008. Drivers should remember to pay attention to traffic switches on local streets and the freeway, Barrett said.
Central Corridor LRT update
Central Corridor Light Rail Transit (LRT) staff members have proposed a new West Bank station under the 19th Street overpass as a result of community feedback. According to project documents, the new location is about a block west of the original spot and thought to be more accessible for pedestrians.
Staff has also settled on locations for the Westgate, Raymond, Fairview, Snelling, Lexington and Dale stations along University Avenue in St. Paul. Engineers can now begin designing the tracks and identifying the impact of underground utilities for the six-mile stretch.
In November, members of the Central Corridor Management Committee visited Salt Lake City’s University of Utah and San Diego State in California to get a look at different LRT facilities. The Utah LRT operates at street level, while the San Diego trains use tunnels. The committee learned that traffic and parking demands have decreased significantly at both schools — San Diego State is even thinking about turning some of its empty parking lots into buildings.
The 11-mile Central Corridor, which wouldn’t be open until 2014, would connect downtown Minneapolis with downtown St. Paul along University and Washington avenues. It would include 16 stations, in addition to five stops shared with the Hiawatha LRT. Currently, workers are in the preliminary engineering phase, which will last until 2009. Once the project secures 50 percent federal, 33 percent state and 17 percent local matching funds, it can move into the final design phase.
Southwest takes second in bike-to-school competition
South High School and Southwest High School ranked first and second, respectively, in the fall 2007 Total Bikes League, a competition that counts the number of bikes parked outside local schools. Officials counted 68 bikes at Southwest —11 bikes shy of winner South High School. Third place went to Richfield High School with 58 bikes.
In terms of total ridership, officials placed Southwest third with 4.67 percent of students biking to school. Wellstone/Uptown Academy came in fourth with 4 percent.
The Minnesota Bike-to-School League includes 31 public and private schools within eight miles of the Minneapolis Central Library that have 350 or more students. The top 10 school in the total bikes and total ridership categories will advance to the winter and spring competitions. The winter count will take place in early February, and the spring count will begin in late April.
Contact Mary O’Regan at [email protected] or 436-5088.