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home : columns : joel alvstad
July 21, 2018

10/4/2017 10:21:00 AM
Ill-timed road closures in the Cities

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

I've lived in a rural area for most of my life.
I've never had to deal with traffic on a day-to-day basis. And, for many years, I would deliberately try to find ways to take back roads so I wouldn't have to drive through congested areas.
But sometimes, the bustle of Twin Cities traffic is generally unavoidable.
This past weekend, though, an already-congested traffic pattern was compounded because of an ill-timed closure of Interstate 35W into downtown.
Any time a major freeway is closed, it puts considerable stress on the secondary roads. But on Sunday, there was a home Vikings game and a home Twins game. There was also the Twin Cities Marathon, which closed off many of the secondary roads.
I understand the need to do road work. I even understand the need to get that road work done before the snow starts to fly. But one would think that someone at MnDOT would have looked at the calendar, seen that downtown was going to be a zoo and realized that this weekend might not be the best time to schedule that work on 35W.
Mess on 169
Things weren't a lot better in the southwest metro on Highway 169.
This weekend was the final weekend of the annual Renaissance Festival, which brings thousands of people each weekend day to an area between Shakopee and Jordan.
Through the festival area, signs indicate that festival goers should move to the farthest-west lane, while through traffic should stay in the east lane on their side of the road.
But as one approaches from the south, you actually have to drive all the way up another couple of miles to a stoplight, make a U-turn and hope you can merge into the line of cars waiting to enter.
As bad as it was getting into the festival, getting out was worse. In past years, they had one aisle for incoming traffic and one for outgoing. That wasn't the case this year, creating long lines of cars waiting to merge into lanes that weren't moving much at all.
I'm told the festival is moving in a couple of years. Hopefully, they can rectify the traffic mess.
Stadium lives up to hype
Sunday, I got to experience a Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time.
The first thing I noticed about the stadium, which sits on the former site of the Metrodome, is the size. I was told that the entire Metrodome would have been able to fit into the lower bowl of U.S. Bank Stadium.
I did not get to see the stadium from the far reaches of the upper deck, but I can safely say there isn't a bad seat in the place. At the Metrodome, the seats in the upper deck felt so far away from the action that you needed binoculars.
One unique feature of the new stadium is that its paneling lets in a remarkable amount of natural light.
But there are two things that are much the same between the new stadium and the old.
The first is the noise. Unlike in the Dome, where the noise would circulate and hang, it seemed like there was just a wall of noise at the new stadium. I've heard the acoustics for concerts aren't that great, but I felt like there really wasn't much echoing going on.
Unfortunately, one other thing stays the same. The Vikings looked fairly pathetic in their 14-7 loss to the Detroit Lions. I keep telling myself that they can't be lousy forever, but I'm starting to question that thinking.

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