Sate Department of Transportation officials have released preliminary drawings of a road plan they say would solve one of the traffic problems posed by the new Vikings stadium: routing motorist into the east part of downtown Minneapolis from westbound Interstate 94.
Currently, the freeway ramp snakes along a sweeping curve toward the Blue Line light rail tracks and plugs into 11th Avenue right the Metrodome, where 5th Street (marked in yellow in the image above) used to run. However, Fifth Street already has been rerouted to the south to make room for the Metrodome and now runs adjacent to 6th Street.
When the new stadium is built, 5th Street will disappear between 11th Street and Chicago Avenue.
MnDOT plans to to change the freeway exit to bring one-way traffic in on 7th Street, where most motorists from the 5th Street exit wind up anyway. The city of Minneapolis received $6.8 million in state Transportation Economic Development funds for the $9.7 million project. (The new ramp is shown in green on the image above.)
The initial rendering has the I-94 freeway exit and the ramp from northbound Hiawatha Avenue/Highway 55 merging in midair over Interstate 35W before reaching the downtown street grid just north of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
The city has included the change in its long-term transportation plans. The exit looks appears to cross above more than a dozen traffic lanes, including both directions of I-35W, as well as the 6th Street I-94 on ramp, and the exits off of I-35W northbound and Hiawatha’s ramp onto I-35W.
The design above was developed to help estimate the cost of the project for the Transportation Economic Development grant application. MnDOT officials say the final design has yet to be determined.