New beginnings on St. Paul's University Avenue

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Now that light rail construction is almost complete, some surviving and new businesses along University Avenue are daring to plan next steps. Many will participate in a celebration Sunday called "St. Paul Open Streets," University Avenue will be closed to traffic between Hamline Ave. and Marion Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. while dozens of local vendors and nonprofits demonstrate their wares and services. One of them will be Bob Edmond, who started Big Daddy's BBQ 27 years ago. "We're close to where we were before the (light rail) construction, and that's on the plus side," Edmond told the Pioneer Press.

The paper reports that almost as many storefronts opened as closed. It quotes business owners saying commercial traffic on the avenue is still lower than before construction began. But almost $2 billion in private investment is betting that University Avenue will be better than before.

The Metropolitan Council's  Central Corridor Light Rail project divides the 11-mile stretch from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul into a series of commercial districts like Stadium Village, The Midway and Historic Rondo.

In another story, the Pioneer Press reports that trains along the Metro Green Line will be tested day and night next week. They will be moving slowly between Prior Avenue and Chatsworth Street. There will be other work on the line downtown and commuters should expect many detours.

The Met Council says work on the Green Line is 94 percent complete, and trains will be in service some time in 2014.

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