The Hennepin County Public Safety Facility at 5th Street and 5th Avenue will get two new skyways. The first skyway, spanning 5th Street, will connect to the Government Center Ramp, and is scheduled to open in late summer 2004. The second skyway would connect to the Haaf Memorial Parking Ramp across 4th Street South. This skyway will follow the first skyway, but does not have a completion date.
According to Judy Hollander, Hennepin County director of property services, the first skyway is being built on a fast track because it is being constructed over the new light-rail track.
"We'll have to probably construct the trusses for [the 5th Street] skyway even prior to construction," Hollander said. "We want to get those trusses up before the LRT trains begin operating in April 2004."
Hollander said the city requires the new skyways. "I think largely it helps the city to expand the skyway network, particularly in that part of town where there aren't many skyways," Hollander said. "For us at Hennepin County, it's advantageous for us to be connected because there are three courtrooms in the Public Safety Facility. There's a lot of district court activity going on there and a lot of people going back and forth on jail business and on court business."
The public won't be mixing with criminals. According to Hollander, the new skyways will not be used to transport jail inmates. She said inmates are transported through underground tunnels that are not open to the public.