University of Minnesota
As it glides through the U's Twin Cities campus, the CCLRT will have a stop on the East Bank in front of Moos Tower (right).
The light-rail trail begins
As construction steps up on CCLRT, a new Washington Avenue Mall is on the horizon
By Rick Moore
Change is in the air on campus, and it’s about to become even less subtle than the advent of spring.
If you work or take classes at the U, you’ve probably noticed the new stretch of Harvard Street near the Rec Center and the new stoplight at Pleasant Street and Arlington, near Fraser Hall. And chances are you’ve noticed the changes to the Washington Avenue Bridge on both levels.
Now come the bigger changes. Effective May 16, Washington Avenue will close for good to automobile traffic between Pleasant and Oak streets. This will mean different routes for both buses and cars, and new patterns to get accustomed to for students, staff, and visitors.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel (or in this case, at both ends of the Washington Avenue Bridge), as we all know following the collapse and rebuilding of the I-35W bridge and the lengthy construction of TCF Bank Stadium.
Come 2014, the East Bank of the Twin Cities campus will be bisected by the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line (CCLRT)—the latest jewel in the metro area’s burgeoning alternative transportation system. It will link three of the greatest traffic generators in the region—downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, and downtown St. Paul—and make public transportation that much more accessible and enticing.
Take a virtual ride on the new train
Scoot through the Twin Cities campus, from the West Bank to TCF Bank Stadium, via this nifty simulation.
When the CCLRT takes shape, it will mean Washington Avenue, the street, will yield to Washington Avenue, the mall. The train will travel down the middle of Washington, with the remaining space on each side shared by buses and bikes. Platforms will feature 20-foot-wide pedestrian-friendly zones, trees, benches, and permeable concrete pavers to lessen rainwater flow into the Mississippi River. There will be six pedestrian and two automobile crossings along the heart of this new mall.
Best of all, the CCLRT will have three stops on campus: at the West Bank between Cedar and 19th avenues, at the East Bank between Union and Harvard (in front of Moos Tower), and at Stadium Village just east of TCF Bank Stadium.
Keeping up with the changes
Until 2013, when construction is largely completed and testing of the line begins, there will be plenty of changes to keep track of. Here are some guides and resources:
• The Metropolitan Council’s Central Corridor LRT site contains construction updates, news items, FAQs, and multimedia presentations. View it at CCLRT.
• Eventually, Metro Transit buses will share the Washington Avenue Mall with trains and with bicycles. But for now, buses that had stopped along Washington Avenue will be taking different routes. Go to Metro Transit for information on detours and estimated construction timelines by area.
• The U’s Parking and Transportation Services has produced new maps of campus reflecting the change to Washington Avenue and other changes on campus. Visit PTS. And for an updated map showing biking lanes and pathways on campus, visit bicycle access.
• The University’s Central Corridor site contains an archive of documents related to CCLRT.
• Merchants along the CCLRT route can use your support throughout the construction period. You can access special discounts from participating businesses on or near the corridor by visiting Discover Central Corridor.
Finally, if you’d like a sneak preview of the CCLRT’s path through campus, check out the virtual simulation produced by the Met Council.