FALCON HEIGHTS (WCCO) — In less than a week, drivers may experience some frustrations just trying to get to the Great Minnesota Get Together.
For the first year, light rail construction complicates the annual commute to the fairgrounds.
“Light rail construction is the only problem,” said State Fair Transportation Director Steve Grans.
Grans says the fair lost its biggest park and ride lot near Interstate 94 and Snelling Avenue. Light rail construction storage now replaces 1,000 parking spaces.
So, Grans is now redirecting people to one of five lots near the University of Minnesota’s TCF Stadium.
There is also a new lot with 600 spaces, at the Wilder Foundation on Lexington, which is just a few of the 34 free park and rides he says should be the first ride of any fairgoers’ day.
“We have only 9,000 parking spots on the fairgrounds, we attract 200,000 people on a weekend day,” said Grans.
Karen Rutana understands the hassle. She trucked her hot apple dumpling stand all the way in from Ohio, but once near the Minnesota State fairgrounds, she found her journey wasn’t yet over.
“Right in the thick of it, right in front of our hotel, on University Avenue is pure construction — a little hectic,” said Rutana.
Just like Rutana’s customers, she’ll circle and compete for a prime parking spot, too.
“We get here at 6 o’clock in the morning, but we still have to come and find parking spaces like everybody else,” said Rutana. “Definitely take the park and rides. It’s the easiest and most convenient.”
Grans says three-fourths of the customers, over a million last year, came by mass transit at some point. They’re hoping for the same trend this year.
He says there are also 17 metro transit express sites around the suburbs that cost $5.
He reassures customers that Highway 280 off of I-94 eastbound and Snelling will be back open before the Fair, but warns everyone to still plan ahead.
“From the south our customers are going to have a little bit of difficulty possibly crossing University Avenue because of the Corridor,” he said.