Central Corridor work begins, along with traffic jams

Despite the objections of some suburban state lawmakers who have a sudden and unusual interest in the business climate along University Avenue, heavy construction has started on the Central Corridor light rail project.

Here are the major detours and lane closures to watch out for, courtesy of the Met Council. Traffic along and around the planned route will surely be a headache. Avoid it if you can.

The Washington Avenue Bridge will be reduced to one lane through 2012. Watch out for the lane shifts. On March 7, all traffic will be moved to the north side of the bridge until 2012.

Beginning the week of March 7, construction crews will start to install fencing on the upper level of the bridge and all pedestrian and bicycle traffic will be moved to the north side.

Central Corridor work begins, along with traffic jams

West Bank utility relocation on Cedar and Washington avenues began in 2010. It hits high gear again in early April on the Washington and Cedar Avenue ramps.

East Bank construction will start in mid-May on Washington Avenue between Pleasant and Oak streets to permanently remove auto traffic from that stretch of Washington and convert it to a pedestrian mall.

Construction has started on the south side of University between Emerald and Hamline. Traffic will shift to the north side of University and be reduced to one lane each way.

In midsummer, work will switch to the north side of University and traffic will shift to the south side, remaining one lane each way through November. Access will be maintained to all businesses but on-street parking in the construction zone will be removed. Left turns will be allowed only at intersections with traffic signals.

The projected Central Corridor route map.
The projected Central Corridor route map.

In the Capitol area, Robert Street is closed to all traffic through November 2011 between University Avenue and 12th Street, but access will be allowed to Regions Hospital and the east side of the Capitol area via Jackson and 14th streets Rev. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The west side of the Capitol is accessible via Cedar Street and MLK Blvd. Twelfth Street is reduced to one lane westbound between Jackson and Cedar.

In downtown St. Paul, utility relocation will continue along Cedar Street and several cross streets through spring. Heavy construction on Cedar between Fifth and Seventh streets will begin in June. In April, crews will remove the skyway over Fifth Street between Minnesota and Cedar streets in downtown St. Paul in order to demolish the vacant former Bremer Bank building. That is where the tracks will be built on a diagonal from Fifth and Cedar streets to Fourth and Minnesota streets. A replacement skyway will be built and opened by November.

Cedar Street track bed construction and installation from Broadway to Minnesota will start March 21.

Here's how the Met Council envisions the project working once it's complete.

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