Minneapolis answers to angry drivers after disaster downtown commute

A combination of construction projects was a recipe for disaster downtown Wednesday, as drivers reported morning commutes that were at least double what they usually are.

“It usually takes 25 to 30 minutes from Richfield,” said a driver stuck in traffic on Fourth Street Wednesday. “Today it took almost an hour.”

The City of Minneapolis responded to angry drivers on Twitter saying, “To help, we’re reducing unnecessary construction and increasing traffic control staffing.”

After acknowledging the “rough” morning commute, the city announced it was adding 12 additional traffic control agents for the evening rush.

Commuters complained that the city of Minneapolis didn’t do an adequate job of communicating the closure of a major artery in downtown—Hennepin Avenue—ahead of time.

“I read the paper cover to cover, I watch the nightly news every night before I got to bed. There was nothing,” said downtown resident and former Met Council member Annette Meeks.

When asked about the lack of communication, a spokesperson for the city referenced a press conference last week where transportation leaders warned of coming traffic woes. She also pointed to three recent press releases on the city’s website that highlighted Lowry Tunnel closures and Light Rail service, but did not specifically mention the closure of Hennepin Avenue between Sixth and Fourth Streets.

“It’s part of the problem with our city,” said Meeks. “We just have a city that’s focused yesterday on cat adoption, instead of alerting people to the fact that one of the major arteries through downtown Minneapolis is going to be closed for a week.”

The City of Minneapolis says it will have additional officers directing traffic downtown for the remainder of the Hennepin Avenue closure, which is set to last through July 3.