Bridges to force closures through the end of September
Kenilworth Bridge on West Lake of the Isles Parkway, between Kenilworth Place and Dean Parkway, will close for two weeks beginning Sept. 15 for deck repair work, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
Pedestrian and bike traffic will, however, be able to access the bridge during this time.
The Minneapolis Public Works and Park Board crews are doing the deck repair work. Public Works will handle the placement of steel framing, while the Park Board will fill the concrete. The work will extend the life of the bridge by an estimated 50 years, according to Minneapolis Bridge Specialist Jeff Johnson.
The bridge, which regularly receives heavy traffic, is scheduled to reopen to all vehicles on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Also, Nicollet Avenue at Interstate 35W/state Highway 62 underpass will close nightly from Sunday through Thursday, 10 p.m.–5 a.m., through the rest of September to allow crews to place concrete bridge segments around the Nicollet Avenue bridge.
Detours: Diamond Lake Road, Portland Avenue and 66th Street.
Rybak says ‘free’ bikes will stick around
After taking a tour of both Denver and Minneapolis on “Freewheelin” bikes, Mayor R.T. Rybak said 70 of the free bicycles will remain following the Republican National Convention.
Humana will provide the bikes and kiosks at an as-of-yet undetermined location Downtown. But unlike the manned Freewheelin bike stations available Downtown during the RNC, stations that are being left behind will be automated kiosk-controlled bike stations. Each is solar-powered with battery back up and is activated by a personalized Freewheelin member card.
The process to “rent” a Freewheelin’ bike goes like this: you locate a kiosk, provide a photo ID and swipe your credit card. You can then borrow the bike and helmet and return it before 7 p.m.
Simple enough, right?
Jim Turner, spokesman for Humana, said the locations of the kiosks will be up to Minneapolis officials, however he said reregistering online at Freewheelinwaytogo.com will expedite the process.
At a ride outside the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Turner said Rybak was the one who approached him.
“He was clearly very enthusiastic about bicycles and bike-sharing,” Turner said of America’s so-called “fittest” mayor.
“It was the hit of the [DNC],” Rybak said of the bicycles. “I think they made the streets much more fun for the week.”
Back at home during the RNC, Rybak said approximately 2,000 people used the bike share, logging 13,000 miles and burning 100,000 calories in the Twin Cities.
I-35W North to get an extra toll lane
Work to widen Interstate 35W north to five lanes is already under way, and will continue through 2010, according to MnDOT.
A “priced dynamic shoulder” or toll lane will be added along the left hand side of I-35W from 42nd Street to Downtown, in an attempt to ease congestion during peak traffic from Lake Street to the Crosstown. The price will vary depending on how busy it is.
Another toll lane will be added on both northbound and southbound I-35W between 66th Street and 42nd Street. And High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes south of 66th Street on I-35W will be turned into toll lanes.
The $18 million project is one of a number funded through a $133.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Urban Partnership Agreement program.
Plans also call for the addition of 20-foot-tall wood sound barriers.
The schedule provided by MnDOT says the northbound lanes will likely be completed in fall 2009, while southbound lanes will have to wait until 2010.
Reconstruction is forcing the closure of some bike lanes along Marquette and 2nd Avenues, to complete the Marq II project Downtown and Washington Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River.
When work finishes in 2009, the reopening of Marquette and 2nd Avenues will feature expanded bus lanes, but will not feature bike lanes, however the issue is being eyed at City Hall.
Nicollet Mall, however, will no longer feature buses and will be reopened to cycling traffic 24 hours a day.
While construction occurs, the city suggests taking alternative routes on Hennepin Avenue’s bike lanes and 3rd Avenue, which has no bike lanes. At times general traffic lanes will remain open, and bicyclists may use those lanes, according to a city news release.
The release suggested riding with the flow of traffic, staying visible by not riding in the gutter and ride where the right wheel of a car would be. For more information, go to www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/public-works/marq2/.
The second closure is the Washington Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi. Hennepin County has eliminated the bike lanes due to concerns over the strength of the upper deck of the bridge. Because of high pedestrian traffic, bicyclists must walk their bikes through the enclosure.
The bike lanes on the bridge are expected to reopen in the spring.