Washington Avenue at the U closes Saturday

When it reopens, you’ll be able to ride a train, bus, ambulance, or bike, or you can walk it.

But starting Saturday, May 14, you will not be driving your personal motorized vehicle on Washington Avenue through the University of Minnesota’s east bank campus.

Forever.

Light rail builders close Washington Avenue through Stadium Village and the U for construction. It emerges from the light rail chrysalis in 2014 as a transit mall.

The new Washington Avenue transit mall will be similar to what happened to 5th Street in Minneapolis, as the Hiawatha line enters downtown and rolls past City Hall onto Target Field.

There are lots of questions and some answers about how the transit mall will affect the various interests along that stretch of Washington avenue.

Unanswered is how the transit mall will affect businesses in Stadium Village. Some short-term pain — about three years of it — seems inevitable as measured by the St. Paul Lowertown experience, where light rail construction has sliced deeply into revenues of some businesses there.

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And as with so much of life, there’s very little new under the sun including rail service on Washington Avenue. Back in 1948, transit rolled past the front of Coffman Union.

(The 1948 photo looks north from the front entrance of Coffman Memorial Union across Washington Avenue at the Northrup Mall. Visible is the most eastern of the two footbridges, a westbound streetcar and a temporary classroom building on the site of Ford Hall. Northrup Auditorium is visible in the distance. Photographer: St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press. Courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society.)

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