MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the best-known roads in Minnesota is getting a facelift — and it will come at a cost for drivers and business owners.

The Hennepin Avenue Downtown Project is set to begin after the Final Four Basketball Championship in April. The four-year project would span the thoroughfare between South 12th Street and Washington Avenue. Traffic will be one lane at times, and people will also have to deal with closures.

A section between 12th to 7th streets will be closed for up to two years, and the other section will be closed for two more.

The project will be similar to the one on Nicollet Mall that took several years, says Minneapolis Downtown Council president Steve Cramer.

“There’s a lot of learning from the Nicollet project that can be carried over to the Hennepin project, and much of that is around the communication,” Cramer said.

He says the Hennepin project is a necessity.

“It’s going to be an impact, but as I say, the only thing worse is not keeping infrastructure up so then it becomes a catastrophic situation at that point, this is an investment that we have to make,” Cramer said.

(credit: CBS)

An investment that will impact McKenzie Pub, the 25-year-old family business on Hennepin Avenue and 10th Street. Brian McKenzie owns the third-generation business.

“It’s still a little early to know how much we are going to suffer because of it. I know we will see a drop in business just because people don’t want to hassle with the construction area and the temporary sidewalks and the unknown,” McKenzie said.

The project goes from 12th Street near Butcher & The Boar, past the Orpheum Theatre, the Mayo Sports Clinic and Minneapolis Center Library. It ends at Washington and Hennepin avenues, near the Whole Foods.

“Hennepin is a major thoroughfare. It is the artery of downtown, it really is,” McKenzie said. “And to have things disrupted for up to four years, that sounds like an eternity.”

In the end, city officials say Hennepin will have more of a theatre district feel and a stronger road. It is a project that will take strength to endure.

“We’ll find a way to survive, we will,” McKenzie said.

WCCO-TV is told the Pride and Aquatennial parades will still happen, but the city hasn’t yet decided on an alternate route.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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