Minneapolis plans ahead to improve how folks get around on game day at Target Field

The City of Minneapolis and its many partners have release details of the steps the City will take to help people get to and from Target Field on game days.

Many City departments, the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Ballpark Authority, MnDOT, Hennepin County, Metro Transit, ABC Ramps, the Warehouse District Business Association, Target Center, and others are all taking steps to make game day a success. To help fans plan ahead and make the most of their Target Field experience, these partners have collaborated to create DestinationTargetField.com on the Minnesota Twins website. The site helps folks explore all their options for getting to the game, whether it’s by car, on a bus or train, or by biking or walking.

The Target Field Traffic Management Action Plan

The opening of Target Field is a major milestone in a transformation of Downtown Minneapolis. The new ballpark, new rail lines, more two-way streets, new transit lanes, and better bicycle access are all changing how people experience the heart of the city. Adding a new 40,000-seat venue in the Warehouse District will bring more cars, pedestrians, bicycles, and exciting activities to an already busy part of town.

To address all the new traffic on the western edge of Downtown, the City of Minneapolis has created a Target Field Traffic Management Action Plan. The plan outlines many steps that will help people get where they’re going, reduce congestion, and improve safety for drivers and pedestrians. Some of the steps detailed in the plan are tried-and-true traffic management actions, and others are innovative new approaches to managing traffic.

The traffic volumes that come with an urban ballpark like Target Field will be substantial, so some congestion and delays at peak times is unavoidable. This plan is designed to minimize delays and enhance the experience of anyone who comes Downtown on game day. Most components of the plan will be put in place for the first time during the March 27 Gophers game at Target Field.

Highlights of the traffic management plan include:

  • Traffic signal retiming - The City of Minneapolis will be using new traffic signal timing plans for events at Target Field. Many traffic signals already have special timing cycles during rush hour to help move higher volumes of traffic more efficiently. These new timing plans for event traffic will alter signal timing at more than 50 intersections in the Target Field area to help reduce congestion.
  • Traffic control agents - Minneapolis will have 20 traffic control agents and police reserve officers directing traffic during games at Target Field. Metro Transit will also have officers along the Hiawatha Light Rail line to manage trains and pedestrians at those crossings.
  • Dynamic messaging signs - Minneapolis currently has more than two dozen dynamic messaging signs hanging over streets on traffic signal arms. Most of these signs have been installed in the last year, and by the end of May, there will be more than 50 of these signs Downtown.

On game days, the signs will be used to point people to parking, notify drivers of lane restrictions or street closures, or suggest alternate routes when there is congestion ahead. They can also be used for basic wayfinding, to point drivers to freeway entrances as they’re leaving Downtown after the game. The signs are all managed from a central control center, so as traffic conditions change, the messages on the signs can be changed quickly to address the situation in the way that’s most helpful to drivers. The signs can be changed individually or in groups, as needed.

  • Street closures - For many years, Minneapolis has closed streets near the Metrodome for major events to improve safety for pedestrians and to avoid sending vehicles into areas where pedestrians may inhibit traffic movement during busy periods before and after games. There will also be closures as the Twins move to their new home in the Warehouse District.

Crews will monitor traffic and pedestrians in the Warehouse District before games, and if conditions warrant, 1st Avenue may be closed from 4th to 6th streets during the hour before game time. Cross streets will remain open. The street will reopen once the game starts, and close again following the game as fans exit. After the game, 6th Street will also close from 2nd Avenue North to 1st Avenue, and the intersection of 6th Street and 1st Avenue will be closed. The post-game closures will last 30 minutes to an hour.

  • Roadway changes - A few short-term modifications to Downtown streets will help move traffic away from Target Field following games. They include the following changes:
  • Although 9th Street is normally a one-way street headed west, drivers exiting the A Ramp after games will have the option to turn east as well, to access 1st Avenue or 8th Street headed into the Downtown core. This change will be in place for about an hour after each game to allow the ramp to empty more quickly and to allow drivers more direct access to their destinations.
  • Hawthorne Avenue (the southern end of 1st Avenue) will be expanded to three southbound lanes following games from 8th to 12th streets. This will create more street capacity to accept traffic exiting nearby parking ramps, and to facilitate traffic flow to Interstate 394 at 12th Street.
  • Parking restrictions - The Warehouse District already has parking restrictions in place during rush hours and during weekend nights, when bars and restaurants are at their busiest. Some restrictions will also be in effect during events at Target Field. Beginning three hours before game time, there will be no parking on 1st Avenue from Washington Avenue to 8th Street. Dynamic messaging signs will be used to let drivers know that parking is not allowed. Parking will also be restricted on 6th Street from 2nd Avenue North to Hennepin Avenue. Parking will re-open about an hour after the game ends (unless regular rush hour or weekend night parking restrictions are in effect at the time).
  • Taxi zones - Designated taxi zones will make it easy for people to know where to access taxi service. For ballpark events, taxi zones will be located on 3rd Avenue North between 4th and 5th Streets and on 5th Street between Hennepin and 1st Avenues, alongside the light rail tracks. The 5th Street taxi zone will be a post-game zone only.
  • Freeway connections - Working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the City plans to open up the Interstate 394 HOV entrance at 3rd Avenue North and 10th Street to general traffic. This is a permanent change and applies every day, not just on game days. This will create a viable alternative for drivers looking for another route onto I-394 besides Hawthorne Avenue. At the same time, the entrance at 3rd Avenue North and 5th Street will convert to an HOV-only entrance.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation will also use its variable message sign system on the freeways to provide Ballpark traffic information on inbound routes.

Published Mar. 12, 2010