Pasted below is Roadguy’s column from today’s paper; if you’ve read it elsewhere, please skip to the end to leave your comments. And if you’re stopping by to watch the Roadguy bus-driving video, please click here. Thanks.
Alert reader David knows he’s going to hit congestion when he heads to the Minneapolis-Richfield border, but he still wants the previews of just how bad it’s going to be:
I cannot find any traffic website showing drive time in the Crosstown. Obviously, this is due to the massive construction project that started in May. Are there any traffic cameras/websites where I can check traffic in that area?
Escape routes are few in the Crosstown Canyon, and so are traffic cameras, which got clear-cut with the sound walls and much of the greenery. Unfortunately for David, the various traffic websites all used the same cameras, which were operated by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. So the black hole of information, like all black holes, is not easily escaped.
The good news is that the cameras should be up and running again by the end of the month, according to Todd Kramacsz, a supervisor in MnDOT’s traffic management center. In the meantime, David, think of the congestion as your free daily mystery.
Alert reader Mary Jo, meanwhile, wants some reassurance about the 90-year-old bridge she takes to work every day:
Can you confirm that officials have inspected the Central Avenue Bridge to make sure it can accommodate the increased traffic (due to the loss of the 35W bridge)? I realize I may be paranoid, but I take the bridge downtown each morning for work, and feel the same small vibrations each time a large number of cars (or one large truck) pass by going northbound on the bridge.”
Matt Laible, a spokesman for the city of Minneapolis, said the public works folks are very confident in Mary Jo’s bridge, which is officially known as the 3rd Avenue Bridge. (It’s named after the street at its southern end, whereas the 10th Avenue Bridge is named after the street on its northern end. Go figure.) Such concrete arch bridges were built to withstand fully loaded roadways and much more.
Because a state highway runs across it, the 3rd Avenue Bridge is actually MnDOT’s baby. Spokesman Kent Barnard, who notes that bridges are designed to vibrate, says it was inspected in July 2006, and nothing major turned up. It’ll be checked again soon as part of the post-collapse statewide inspections.
Finally today, several alert readers who followed Roadguy’s bus-driving adventure in last week’s column (or watched the cone-crushing two-minute video online) wanted to know whether they could ever try driving a bus. Some even said they’d be willing to pay.
“I guess the best we could say right now is that Metro Transit is considering it for next year,” said Bob Gibbons, the agency’s spokesman. They’re thinking of allowing “a small number of licensed drivers” to try a course that’s a bit smaller than the one Roadguy tried, and it wouldn’t include any backing up. (Sure, make it easier now.)
The final decision, Gibbons said, rests with the folks in the agency’s risk management department.
Let’s hope they don’t watch the video first.