Light rail prep to begin on Washington Ave. bridge

Mark your calendars for more Central Corridor construction, especially if you work or study at the University of Minnesota.

Traffic on the Washington Avenue bridge on the U of M campus will be reduced to one lane each way starting Feb. 26. Crews will remove medians that weekend, and traffic controls will be installed on March 2. Construction starts in late March.

The lane reductions will be between Cedar Avenue on the west side of the bridge to Church Street on the east side.

That could cause delays, so start thinking about using alternative routes. And you might end up using those alternative routes permanently, because the Central Corridor light rail line will dramatically change Washington Avenue through the U of M East Bank campus.

As for the bridge, crews will begin construction in late March to replace the vehicle deck and add tracks for the trains. Here’s a few more details from the Metropolitan Council’s news release:

One lane will be maintained in each direction on the bridge during construction. Traffic will be restricted to one lane in each direction on the north side of the bridge while crews remove the vehicle deck on the south side this year. In 2012, traffic will be shifted to the newly built south side while the vehicle deck is removed on the north side.

Cyclists and pedestrians on the upper deck of the bridge will use the north side this year and be shifted to the south side in 2012.

We’ll take a more detailed look at bridge construction in future posts — it’s a pretty major endeavor involving adding girders and other elements to strengthen the bridge so it can carry cars, trains, bikes and pedestrians.

You can also check out the Central Corridor website.

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