Tim Yotter/Scout.com

Six-block city road project could create havoc for Minnesota Vikings fans for next three months

In the big picture of things, a six-block road detour doesn't seem like that much. But when it's on Washington Avenue within blocks of U.S. Bank Stadium and one of the primary routes used to enter and exit the stadium, six blocks may as well be six miles.

They say that in Minnesota there are two seasons – winter and road construction.

It would appear that the timing of a road project in the City of Minneapolis is going to have a negative impact on fans of the Minnesota Vikings looking to get to Hwy. 94 out of the city by the most traveled route.

It would seem clear that the city wasn’t taking into account the conflict with the early events at U.S. Bank Stadium when it scheduled the construction, which theoretically could have been scheduled at any time during the construction season to avoid potential traffic jams in a venue that is going to be bringing 73,000 people to the downtown east area for a pair of major concerts and six Vikings games.

On Monday, a six-block stretch of westbound Washington Avenue between Portland Avenue and Hennepin Avenue will close for three months. The first test of the potential gridlock from taking away one of the prime arterial routes to get out of the stadium will come this weekend as a pair of back-to-back concerts at the new stadium will take place. In-bound traffic shouldn’t be as big an issue because the eastbound section of Washington Avenue will remain open during the construction.

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On Friday night, fans of country hit-maker Luke Bryan will fill The Bank. The next night, heavy metal icons Metallica will take the stage – a concert that sold out within just minutes of tickets going on sale.

At least the Metallica concert won’t have to deal with the cross-pollination of traffic related to downtown Minneapolis workers leaving and concertgoers arriving on a weeknight. The majority of traffic issues will be directly involving the Friday concert as a guinea-pig test for how the six-block detour will impact massive volumes of traffic that a specialized event will bring to an already-congested area of downtown Minneapolis on a routine day.

The problem as it pertains to the Vikings will come when traffic conflicts with the standard level of traffic of workers exiting downtown as Vikings fans arrive.

The first of the six games – the Aug. 28 preseason home opener against San Diego – should be business as usual for downtown traffic. It’s a standard noon Sunday game, so the snarls people have dealt with for the last 30 years likely won’t change much.

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It won’t, however, be without its share of problems. The Sept. 1 game against the Los Angeles Rams will come on a Thursday, where, unless tens of thousands of downtown workers opt to take long weekends, will create its own share of traffic issues.

The other potential problem game will be Oct. 3, when the Vikings host the Giants for a Monday night game at the new stadium. There will be no viable excuse for the downtown work traffic to have that Monday off, unless they want to use a vacation day to avoid it.

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Whenever traffic roadblocks are put up in front of Minnesota, it tends to flow like water. Commuters find ways to get in and out of trouble and get themselves on their way.

But, for Vikings fans unfamiliar with the terrain, bottle-necking traffic is going to create its share of headaches. Alternate routes are being strongly recommended. Learning the best ones will be the test for Vikings fans.


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