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Critics question $6 million pedestrian bridge for new Vikings stadium

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It's a drop in the bucket compared to the $1 billion cost of construction of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

But some people are objecting to a plan for $6 million in public money to pay for a pedestrian bridge that's planned to connect the new stadium with the nearby Downtown East light rail station, WCCO reports.

Metro Transit officials say the bridge is necessary for safety reasons, to help the stadium-going crowds navigate the busy area near the intersection of South 4th Street and Chicago Avenue.

The bridge would span the light rail tracks and make it easier for pedestrians to get from the station to the stadium and back.

The Metropolitan Council – which oversees Metro Transit – is the entity that'll make the final decision. The Met Council is working in conjunction with Vikings officials and the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority on planning around the stadium.

“People are so confused as to how to cross that bad intersection,” said Michele Kelm-Helgen, the chair of the MSFA, according to the Star Tribune. “The place is going to be teeming with people.”

Some critics question the $6 million cost, including Nick Magrino, a writer on the StreetsMN blog.

“They’re spending that much money on something that just seems a little bit unnecessary in the grand scheme of things,” Magrino told WCCO.

Others say it's the Vikings, rather than taxpayers, who should pay for the bridge, including Met Council member Jennifer Munt, Finance and Commerce notes.

She voted against the bridge when it came up for consideration last month by the council's transportation committee, noting that the $6 million could be used to pay for more pressing needs of the transit system, such as heated bus shelters in some of the area's poorer neighborhoods.

But team spokesman Lester Bagley said the pedestrian bridge will be more than just a game-day convenience, noting that new business and residential development going on near the stadium will bring thousands more people to that area of downtown, the Star Tribune reports.

Under the proposal, the Vikings will pay $250,000 and the MSFA will kick in another $50,000 each year in exchange for naming rights of the light rail platform and other restrictions on advertising. According to Bagley, the Twins have a similar agreement at the Target Field station.

The full Met Council will take a final vote on May 27.

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