I-35W comes to the Midway

The hegemony of motorized travel knows no bounds. Sever one of its vital lifelines and it moves blithely to an alternative. Block the alternative and the alternative to the alternative is found. Does anyone ever imagine the possibility that maybe the trip didn’t have to occur in the first place? 

The traffic morass caused by the I-35W bridge collapse has been moving ever eastward. SR 280 was turned into a temporary freeway. But this weekend some connecting ramps are being improved along the detour and the highway department is recommending Snelling as an alternative. The street that runs right through the middle of our Hamline-Midway neighborhood (Star Tribune Aug. 9).

We’re accustomed to the occasional Snelling jam up. Northbound to the State Fair in the morning and southbound from the State Fair in the evening. Classic car show. Same deal. We know how to route around all of that and we are accustomed to adapting with surprising cheerfulness to these consequences of urban congestion. But it is not unreasonable to ask, is all of this really necessary?

Why does the government have such a serious responsibility to ensure absolutely that I can aim my 2.5 ton wagon at any place in the city I want it to be anytime I want it to be there? Does anyone even begin to suggest that maybe I should just, well, stay home or, alternatively, take the bus or ride my bike? That notion does not appear in the Strib story. 

Dylan with Pronto Pup  Dylan with Pronto Pup | click for larger version

The people sitting in their cars during State Fair time could very easily have gone to one of the many park and ride lots where they could ride a free bus to and from the fair. In some cases the free bus goes along a dedicated right of way ensuring no waiting for deep fried food items on a stick. This year, with all of the mess, possibly the Fair organizers could simply shut down the parking option on the Fair grounds and tell all of the fair-goers to park and ride. But that idea seems completely absurd, doesn’t it?

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    Starting tonight, I-94 drivers won’t be able to go north onto Hwy. 280. Work should be done early Monday.

    By Jim Foti, Star Tribune

    Last update: August 09, 2007 – 8:58 PM

    Starting tonight, the detour itself will be detoured: There will be no access to northbound Hwy. 280 from Interstate Hwy. 94 this weekend.
    The ramp closures, announced Thursday, are scheduled to run from 8 p.m. today to 5 a.m. Monday. The southbound ramps from 280 to I-94 will not be affected.

    MnDOT’s suggested detours are Snelling Avenue and I-35E.

    The northbound ramps from both directions of I-94 to Hwy. 280 are being closed to lessen traffic volumes on 280 while MnDOT works on the highway’s north end. Right now, Hwy. 280 narrows to one lane as it enters the I-35W/Hwy. 36 junction; that ramp will be two lanes after this weekend.

    Hwy. 280 has been upgraded to temporary freeway status because it’s part of the primary detour route for traffic diverted from the closed stretch of I-35W.

    During this weekend’s work, drivers will be able to access northbound Hwy. 280 from any of the local interchanges along the highway but are encouraged to use alternate routes. Local northbound Hwy. 280 traffic will be detoured along Terminal Road and County Road B2 instead of exiting to I-35W/Hwy. 36.

    MnDOT manager Nick Thompson said Thursday afternoon that the department is still aiming to close the 3-mile stretch of I-94 between Hwy. 280 and downtown Minneapolis for the weekend of Aug. 17-19 to add a temporary lane in each direction.

    Although many motorists might like those extra lanes to stick around after the bridge is rebuilt, they’ll be temporary for a reason, Khani Sahebjam, metro district engineer, said Thursday.

    The lanes will be constructed by restriping the highway and converting the shoulders to general traffic lanes. The shoulders are currently used for authorized buses only, and some federal aid is tied to giving buses such a “transit advantage,” Sahebjam said.

    Jim Foti • 612-673-4491 • jfoti@startribune.com

    © 2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

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