Note: this story is an update to an article that ran in the 3/15 print issue.
City officials have announced the details of a traffic management plan designed to better accommodate the crowds headed toward Target Field for Twins games. The plan includes many alterations to Warehouse District streets, including potential street closures, roadway changes and parking restrictions. Most changes will be put in place for the first time during the March 27 Gophers baseball game at Target Field.
At a March 11 meeting, the Minneapolis City Council heard a presentation on the “Target Field Traffic Management Action Plan.” Steve Mosing, traffic operations engineer for the Department of Public Works, laid out the following changes:
Crews will monitor the volume of foot and vehicle traffic in the Warehouse District before games. Should “conditions warrant,” Mosing said, 1st Ave. may be closed between 4th to 6th Streets for one hour before each game. The street would reopen once the game starts and then close again after the last pitch. In addition, 6th St. will close after each game for one block, between 2nd Ave. N. and 1st Ave. The post-game closures would last 30 minutes to an hour.
The city will temporarily allow two-way traffic on 9th St., a one-way headed west. Drivers exiting Target Field’s A Ramp, located on 7th St., will have the option to turn east on 9th St. for one hour after each game. The change is intended to allow the parking ramp to empty out more quickly.
Also, Hawthorn Ave. will be expanded to three southbound lanes after each game, so as to better facilitate traffic flow to Interstate 394.
Beginning three hours before game time, there will be no parking on 1st Ave. from Washington Ave. to 8th St. Parking will also be restricted on 6th St. from 2nd Ave. N. to Hennepin Ave. Both restrictions will be lifted one hour after each game ends.
Dynamic messaging signs
Dozens of electronic street signs will be installed in the Warehouse District, delivering real-time information to drivers about street closures, parking restrictions and other traffic changes.
According to a statement released by the city, Minneapolis already has 24 of these signs operating on traffic signal arms. That number should increase to over 50 by the end of May.
Other components of the action plan involve retiming traffic signals at over 50 intersections, assigning to the area 20 traffic control agents and police reserve officers and designating a handful of specific taxi zones.
The city has also planned to open up 394 carpool entrance ramps at 3rd Ave. N. and 10th St. to general traffic. This is a permanent change that will apply everyday, regardless of Twins games.
Mosing described the action plan as being agile and flexible. If necessary changes become obvious, he said, the city will alter the plan.
Despite the changes, traffic might actually flow much easier around Target Field than it did around the Metrodome, Mosing added, pointing out that Dome never had parking ramps with direct freeway access, something that the new ballpark provides.
“I just want to remind everyone that there are 20-some other cities in the country with urban ballparks,” Council Member Lisa Goodman said during the meeting. She cited Chicago’s Wrigley Field as an example. “There are no giant parking ramps. There is no freeway access […] But there are as many fans, if not more. And there are seven to 10 times the number of immediate residents and business owners. And I think the universal agreement, other than some parking issues, is that more people is better.”
She added, “We wanted this ballpark in an urban environment. We didn’t want them to go out to Blaine. “