The shutdown of Interstate 35W south of downtown Minneapolis on an ultra-busy sports weekend angered everyone from John Q. Motorist to Gov. Mark Dayton.
Despite protestations, Minnesota traffic czars remained firm, declining to change or delay the closure of I-35W between downtown Minneapolis and Crosstown Hwy. 62.
So how was traffic Sunday, when big-draw events included the Twin Cities Marathon, a Vikings game at U.S. Bank Stadium and a home game for the Twins?
Morning traffic was slow and occasionally at a standstill on alternate routes heading north toward Minneapolis. One motorist said that about 10:45 a.m. the backup on the right side of Hwy. 100 northbound stretched 3 to 4 miles south of Interstate 394 where it heads toward downtown. Another reported northbound Penn also was very congested south of Minnetonka Boulevard and I-394.
One Twitter commenter noted sarcastically, "Evidently, Hiawatha is the new 35W. Thanks MnDOT."
Park Avenue, a northbound one-way through south Minneapolis, was crowded but moving along at a decent pace, said one driver.
The Vikings game began at noon and a rain-delayed Twins game at 2:50 p.m. Between those hours, MnDOT and State Patrol maps showed traffic moving normally on major freeways.
After the Vikings' 14-7 loss to the Detroit Lions, drivers heading south were forced back on alternate routes, including Hiawatha, west I-394 or south Hwy. 100.
Traffic speeds were slower on those roads, but the roads were no more congested than a typical afternoon rush hour, according to Kevin Gutknecht, MnDOT spokesman. Many fans stay downtown after the games, so everyone isn't leaving at once, he said.
"It was pretty quiet for after a Vikings game," said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol, noting there were no reported crashes or stalled vehicles.
A big plus was that the rain didn't delay the progress of the long-term rebuilding project. "We really appreciate everyone's patience and people planning ahead to use alternate routes," said Gutknecht.
MnDOT closed I-35W between Crosstown Hwy. 62 and I-94 in downtown Minneapolis to allow crews to move utilities before the Franklin Avenue bridge is torn down next weekend.
Keep those alternate routes handy: I-35W will once again be closed from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. next Monday.
Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619