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Major Hennepin Avenue reconstruction project kicks off Monday

Scheduled to last three years, it'll start by reducing traffic to just one lane tomorrow.

Here's some less-than-welcome news for the commuters who just had to endure a particularly grueling winter driving on downtown Minneapolis roads.

No, there isn't more snow on the way (not as of this writing, at least). But starting on Monday, a "redesign and reconstruction" of Hennepin Avenue will kick off — and last through 2022. 

The three-year project, which will take place between Washington Avenue and 12th Street, aims to upgrade Hennepin's pavement, sidewalks, bike lanes and utilities (i.e. the sewer system, which the city describes as "1880s-era").

So what does this mean for your commute? For one, traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction "for the duration of utility construction," and according to this PDF, you can also expect to encounter the following:

  • Public and private utility work requiring the use of heavy equipment that will increase noise, vibration, and dust in work areas. 
  • Pedestrian detours as needed to facilitate construction needs. 
  • Changes to Metro Transit, with "all buses" being detoured to Nicollet Mall. 
  • No left turns on or off Hennepin Ave. 
  • Cross streets will also be reduced to one lane at times.

All the work is badly needed, however, with the city noting the street was last rebuilt in 1986.

The improvements will include a "sidewalk area able to support pedestrian activities with space for planting and furnishing zones"; more room for "enhanced transit stops compatible with future Arterial Bus Rapid Transit service"; one-way, behind-the-curb bikeways; and "generally four vehicle lanes, with Hennepin Avenue remaining a two-way street."

Also planned are "streetscape enhancements" and other upgrades that will ensure Hennepin Avenue "moves into the future as a functional and vibrant space," the project website says.

Luckily, as the Star Tribune points out, "the work won’t happen all at once," with the first phase of the project happening over two years between 12th and 7th streets, and the second happening between 7th Street and Washington Avenue "sometime in 2021."

The paper says the upgrade will cost $23 million, though the city says the cost is estimated at $20 million.

Either way, it's being paid for with city, state, and federal transportation transportation funds; the latter of which accounts for about a third of the total project budget.

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