As Gov. Schwarzenegger in his previous careers would say, “No pain, no gain.” So it is with the dramatic changes coming to downtown Minneapolis transportation. MARQ2, the re-construction of Marquette and Second Avenues, is now entering it’s final and most challenging phase that will eventually bring about the most intensive remake of Minneapolis downtown transportation in decades.
By the end of the year, buses heading down transit lanes on Marquette and 2nd Avenues won’t need to wait behind other buses picking up passengers. When traffic stops, buses will be able to switch to a second transit lane. This will eliminate unnecessary stops and speed up commutes. City construction crews will be busy this year rebuilding and adding second bus lanes to Marquette and 2nd Avenues, from 1st Street to 12th Street. They’ll add wider sidewalks, better bus shelters and improved streets-capes for pedestrians.
Once MARQ2 is finished, express buses will move from Nicollet Mall to Marquette and 2nd, reducing peak bus routes on the mall by 35%. Fewer and quieter buses on Nicollet Mall will make shopping, strolling and dining on the mall even better. MARQ2 is just one of the major downtown transportation projects that will become reality this year. Other improvements include converting Hennepin and 1st avenues from one-way to two-way streets and new bike lanes on 1st Avenue; operation of the Northstar Commuter Rail line and an extension of the Hiawatha LRT; and extending the Hiawatha LRT Bicycle Trail to bring the trail into downtown to connect with 3rd and 4th streets.