Study shows uptick in Downtown skyway traffic

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February 1, 2010
By: Gregory J. Scott
Gregory J. Scott
If you’ve noticed a bit more jostling during your skyway lunch dashes, you’re not alone. Foot traffic in the elevated corridors jumped 4 percent in 2009, and in some areas pedestrian counts reached a 10-year high.

The uptick is the major take-away from a report issued last week from Minneapolis-based Pedestrian Studies, a national consulting firm that analyzes foot-traffic patterns for people whose business depends on that sort of thing — shopping centers, property managers, organizers of public events. Pedestrian Studies founder Peter Bruce has conducted annual skyway counts in Minneapolis since 1991.

For this study, Bruce focused on the corridors connected to Downtown’s major buildings, including City Center, Gaviidae Common, Northstar Center, 50 South Sixth Street and 225 South Sixth Street.

“All of the buildings studied reported some increases in traffic,” said Bruce, “and increases at skyway locations ranged from 4 to 17 percent.” He added that half of the retail locations studied are seeing foot-traffic levels above the yearly average volumes seen over the last decade.

The busiest stretch occurs at the intersection of City Center’s south and east skyway corridors. The south corridor connects City Center to Macy’s.  The east corridor connects the building to Gaviidae Commons. The two walkways each accommodated roughly 13,500 pedestrians per day, tying for the title of most congested. The escalator linking the Northstar Center food court to the skyway system came in a close second, logging 13,000 pedestrian trips per day.

In the 50 South Sixth skyway, foot traffic was up a huge 17 percent over 2008. Bruce attributes the jump to renovations and new occupancy in the adjacent Renaissance Square Building, as well as increased occupancy in the 50 Sixth South building itself.

Counts were down 7 percent on retail-heavy Nicollet Mall, where a lagging consumer economy dragged down the number of shoppers. But foot traffic on the Mall should increase at least 10 percent in 2010, Bruce says, thanks to the North Star Commuter Rail and Hiawatha Light Rail connections at the Target Field Transfer Hub.

And speaking of the new Twins stadium, Bruce estimates that of the 42,000 projected baseball fans attending each game, 75 percent of them will access the ballpark from 6th and 7th streets along the Target Center on 1st Avenue North, just west of Hennepin. He said that retail businesses in this area will see five to 10 times the current volume of foot traffic on game days.