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Biz Owners Happy Lanes On University Ave. Reopened

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(credit: CBS) Susie Jones
Susie Jones has been with WCCO Radio since 1996. She started as a...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Construction crews on the Central Corridor Light Rail line are moving the orange cones Wednesday.

Now there will be two lanes of traffic in both directions on an 11-mile stretch of University Avenue from Emerald Street to Hamline Avenue.

Spokeswoman Laura Baenen said a dry fall allowed contractors to make the Nov. 30 deadline.

“The good news is that the access is back on University Avenue to business in that construction zone,” Baenen said.

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Susie Jones Reports

These lane closures have been restricting business at places like Midway Book store, at Snelling and University.

“Lost a lot of our foot traffic, a lot of our customers just avoided the area, because of all the construction, and all the lane closures, so it’s been a pretty rough year,” said Tom Stransky, of Midway.

He said his sales are down 20 to 30 percent since light rail construction began here March 21.

At Twin City Saw, near Prior and University, sales are about the same as last year but the owner had been expecting an increase.

“When we had the block encircled with chain link fencing, a lot of people drove by, we’d get a phone call, ‘gee, I see you’ve moved, or I see you’re closed, how can I get there?,'” he said.

And while getting places along University in your car has been hard enough, imagine driving a semi through this every week.

Beer delivery driver Jeff Salmon says Wednesday is a happy day.

“Sometimes people don’t realize where to park, where not to, what lanes to drive in, what lanes not to drive in, so it can get pretty hairy down here sometimes,” he said.

Rebecca Brents is the manager at Cupcake and said the additional lanes are a big plus.

“It will help out the businesses a lot,” she said.

But it has been a rough couple of months.

“You know, the fact of the matter is people just think University Avenue and they don’t want to come anywhere near it,” Brents said.

Patricia Y owns The Edge Cafe near Raymond and University.

“You know, it’s progress,” she said.

And says she’s willing to put up with the inconvenience because in the end it will be worth it.

“You gotta go through crap like that to get somewhere new, and here we are with a new road and it’s beautiful,” she said.

The Central Corridor Project is about one third complete, with the total completion date in 2014.

There may be some minor lane closures next month as crews continue to work in the new median along University. They will be doing above-ground work on the stations and rails.

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