Additional reporting by Al Schoch

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As of Monday morning, there was less congestion on Nicollet Mall. Buses are not allowed on the downtown stretch because of construction work for the Nicollet Mall redesign.

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The construction project on the mall is expected to last through 2017. In the meantime, pedestrians will see less traffic but hear more noise.

Buses has been moved off the mall and onto nearby Marquette as well as 2nd and 3rd avenues.

Signs are posted to let everyone know about the changes and the new routes the buses will follow. The detour affects the following seven routes: 10, 11, 17, 18, 25, 59 and 568.

Businesses along Nicollet in downtown Minneapolis are going to stay open while the work progresses, but managers are concerned the distractions will drive away customers.

Zelo restaurant general manager Dave Ecklund said it’s not going to be pretty for outdoor patio customers.

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“We’re ten feet away from Nicollet Mall,” he said. “It’s going to affect business. When it’s loud, when it’s visual, when it’s out there, [it] takes away from the ambiance.”

Ecklund said the project has to be done, and he’s working with construction crews and managers to make sure there’s only a minimal effect on his restaurant business.

While it may be inconvenient for riders, cyclists said their morning treks are easier not having to share the roadway with buses.

“It’s nice to not have to dodge between them, but we’ll see how this shapes up as the project continues,” Eric Cox said.

Nicollet became known as Nicollet Mall in 1965 after a major renovation that turned it into the pedestrian and transit corridor. The Mall was renovated again in the late 1980s.

The 2015 redesign will give the mall a new look that includes more sidewalk space and room for pedestrians. The cost of reworking the Mall is $50 million.

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