MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Soon it’s going to very tricky to get around downtown Minneapolis.

The light rail is shutting down downtown stops for 11 days. And major hassles are in store for car commuters too.

The Lowry Tunnel eastbound will be closed through 12 p.m. Sunday. The I-35W ramp to westbound I-94 will close early Saturday morning.  And those are just a few of the projects. Here is the full list.

In just a few days 300,000 people will come downtown for Twin Cities Pride. About 30,000 will come to Uptown for the Food Truck Festival.

And around 40,000 will be in the city for USA Junior Volleyball National Championships The USA Volleyball Girls’ Junior National Championships.

It’s also the weekend. Traffic and the light rail will come to a stop. Scott McBride is a transportation district engineer with MnDOT.

“People have asked why this weekend? Well we’re up against considerable pressure, pressure people around here are quite familiar with,” McBride said.

MnDOT officials say the Minnesota climate leaves little room for flexibility. Metro Transit says it’s the lesser of evils. John Humphrey is the Metro Transit light rail deputy chief operations officer.

“If you look at our event calendar through the rest of the year, this was the least impactful 11-day stretch,” Humphrey said.

And so they’ll begin. Workers will expose tracks, making them easier to access for future repairs.

“If we weren’t performing this construction project at this time, reliability in the near future would be compromised so this is important to get this done this year,” Humphrey said.

Dot Belstler is executive director of Twin Cities Pride.

“When I first heard about this months ago I tried to have people move things around. But it has to happen as they explained.  It’s just a super short window of time to get all the work done,” Belstler said.

But she believes people will find their way to Pride. And light rail commuters like Zevo Dodon will find their way too.

“I won’t get to work as fast as I usually do,” Dodon said.

But MnDOT insists — albeit slow and steady — we’ll all get where we’re going.

NiceRide is jumping in to this transportation debacle, offering $1 bike rentals. Buses are also an option to take you through the light rail stops. Plan for about 10 extra minutes.

As far as traffic, call 511 for updates.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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