So long, 5th Street

The end is nigh for drivers trying to avoid westbound traffic on I-94 in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reports.

The 5th Street exit is closing permanently on April 1, eliminating a shortcut for the savvy driver trying to get downtown by leaving I-94 (and the ridiculous intersection of I-35W ramp traffic at 11th Street).

Blame the Vikings and the behemoth that’s rising from the rubble of the Metrodome, the Star Tribune says.

A single lane will be added at the 6th Street eastbound ramp to accommodate some of the displaced traffic.

When 5th Street closes about April 1, the impact will likely be felt most by the 9,000 motorists who use the ramp from westbound I-94 to 5th Street each weekday. At 11th Avenue, most are expected to divert to 7th or 9th streets or use 11th Avenue to Washington Avenue S. to enter downtown.

A traffic analysis showed that adding one westbound lane on 6th Street would be sufficient to handle the 3,000 motorists expected to continue past the stadium, Handeland said.

The new alignment will have less of an impact on the 9,000 eastbound motorists who use 6th Street each day to leave downtown.

Curbside parking on the north side of 6th Street will be eliminated to make room for the westbound lane, which will be extended an additional block to Park Avenue S. Sixth will remain a one-way street in other areas of downtown, said Handeland.

Eventually a ramp will be built sending drivers directly onto 7th Street.

A two-lane bike trail will replace 5th Street and the new stadium will have 378 bike parking spaces.