Sidewalk vs. skyway

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April 11, 2005 // UPDATED 1:53 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Greg Corradini
Greg Corradini

Year-round, Downtown's skyway system is a safe haven from Minnesota's moody weather patterns - whether it's the brutal cold or the soggy humidity. But the skyway can also be a very roundabout way of getting from point A to point B.

Its maze of turns and dead ends can make a trip to any destination seem like a choose-your-own-adventure book for skyway amateurs. A favorite restaurant might be just down the street. Yet, getting there through the skyway could take several stretches of zigzagging tunnels.

Ever consider the time that could be saved using the street? The Skyway News did, and it took to the streets proving that the skyway is still useful for those short jogs, even though it can be indirect on the lengthier destinations.

Long-and-Winding Road

A deceitful strip of skyway stretches along South 9th Street, making destinations between Marquette Avenue South and Hennepin Avenue South seem closer than they actually are.

After eating some of their favorite chocolate-and-cheese fondue at the Melting Pot, 80 S. 9th St., a group of fine diners might think the skyway will effortlessly guide them to their show at the State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave. S. Not so folks.

Taking the nearest skyway entrance at the Young Quinlan Building, 81 S. 9th St., the group will run into a pleasant surprise after they head west across Nicollet Mall to the Target Store, 900 Nicollet Mall.

There, they will realize getting to the theater requires traveling two blocks north across South 8th Street to Marshall Field's, 700 Nicollet Mall, before backtracking across South 8th Street again to the Highland Bank Court, 811 LaSalle Ave.

Once this small maneuver has been achieved, the group can head west across LaSalle Avenue to the LaSalle Plaza, 800 LaSalle Ave., where the State Theater is housed. This extended journey can take a whopping eight to 10 minutes even if the group knows their way.

Through the street, however, the State Theater is practically an approximate four-minute walk heading west down South 9th Street from the Melting Pot.

Of all the skyway's indirect routes, the loop that circles the Hennepin County Government Center (HCGC), 300 S. 6th St., is one of the most circuitous.

HCGC is a bustling hub where people can check court documents and civil complaints, among many other things. However, skyway users can only access HCGC heading east across 3rd Avenue South from US Bank Plaza, 200 S. 6th St., or heading west across 4th Avenue South from the 4th Avenue Ramp.

Those who don't park at the Opus Ramp or next door at the Government Center Municipal Ramp, 1415 S. 5th St., will have to do some walking.

The only skyway route to HCGC from the Energy Center Parking Ramp, directly two blocks south of HCGC at 80 S. 8th St., is a six-minute walk due to its indirect route.

Skyway users will have to leave the Energy Center Parking Ramp heading north across South 8th Street toward the Accenture Tower, 333 S. 7th St. Then, they will have to head east across 4th Avenue South into the 701 Associates LLC building, before heading north again two more blocks toward the Government Center Parking Ramp.

On the other hand, the two-block walk directly north from the Energy Center Parking Ramp can be covered in about three minutes on the sidewalk.

The B-line

Conversely, the skyway is about as convenient and time friendly to use as the sidewalk when covering smaller distances.

Take, for example, a Downtown worker who has a weakness for shopping at Gaviidae Common, 651 Nicollet Mall.

If the employee works somewhere within One Financial Plaza, 120 S. 6th St. or the US Bank Plaza, 200 S. 6th St., the time it takes to travel the skyway two blocks west across Marquette Avenue to Gaviidae Common is about the same time it takes to use the sidewalk. Each trip takes roughly three minutes, depending on where this compulsive shopper works.

In a similar scenario, a Downtown visitor who is sick of being holed up at the Marriott Hotel-City Center, 30 S. 7th St., might want to see a movie. The closest movie theaters are the Crown Theatres down South 7th Street in Block "E", 600 Hennepin Ave. S.

To get there, this person can use the skyway tunnels connecting City Center to Block "E" across Hennepin Avenue South and stay warm. Or, the person has the option of walking down South 7th Street and crossing Hennepin Avenue South.

Each trip takes about two minutes, but the skyway has the advantage of bypassing the bikes and cars that can delay pedestrians on the street.

Either way, the time it takes to get somewhere just depends on where you are going in the great network of skyway.