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Nicollet Mall reconstruction starts Monday; will be closed to buses and taxis

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The much-discussed and long-awaited renovation of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis is about to get underway. Construction on the two-year project begins Monday, and the street will be closed to vehicle and bus traffic starting then, according to WCCO.

Crews will be doing utility work along the street for several months, upgrading electrical, natural gas, telecommunications, water and sewer lines.

Metro Transit is rerouting all the buses that normally travel on Nicollet Mall; the new schedules go into effect on Monday July 6. They're available on the Metro Transit website. And here's a map of the new routes. Light rail service will not be affected.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will still be able to travel along the mall while the work is going on this year. But next year, reconstruction of the street and sidewalks will get underway, and at that time bicyclists will also be banned. The work is expected to be complete in 2017.

Retailers and restaurants are bracing for some tougher times while the construction is going on. The noise and dust may drive away some customers, and outdoor seating areas will probably not be very popular, the Star Tribune notes.

In addition, the rerouting of bus lines means riders who normally stop at coffee shops or other places along the mall may go somewhere else.

The downtown farmers market, which is open on Thursdays during the spring and summer, moved off Nicollet to Hennepin Avenue because of the construction. But vendors say business is down this year because customers haven't found the new location and it's more congested, according to WCCO.

Here's a gallery of renderings of the redesigned mall.

The $50 million upgrade aims to make the city’s main downtown thoroughfare more pedestrian friendly by adding green spaces, seating, public art and other interactive experiences. Businesses along the route hope the new amenities will bring more people downtown and spur business growth.

The project is being funded by both public and private money. The state Legislature committed $21.5 million, the City of Minneapolis is paying $3.5 million and downtown property owners will pay the remaining $25 million through a special assessment, the Nicollet Mall Project website notes.

There are 7,100 properties included in the special assessment zone that will have to pay a tax, either up front or through installments over the next 20 years, to fund the rest of the project.

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