Thursday, June 30, 2011

Traffic impacts from Minnesota government shutdown

lawnmower man
State capitol grounds maintenance continued during the 2005 government shutdown—was that deemed critical for public safety? This year the public won't be allowed in the building, but we'll have to see if the lawn still gets mowed.
The Minnesota state government is going to be mostly shut down tomorrow, and drivers are going to notice.

Here's what I know will be shut down:
  • The MnPASS receivers for HOT lanes on I-394 and I-35W will be turned off, so the lanes to being HOV-only during rush hours.  I-394's reversible lanes will only be open to westbound traffic, and the dynamic shoulder lanes on I-35W are expected to be disabled.
  • Construction on the new U.S. 52 Lafayette Bridge in downtown Saint Paul will stop, though maintenance will continue on the existing (fracture-critical) bridge.
  • The new U.S. 61 bridge in Hastings over the Mississippi may be put on hold.
  • The I-494/U.S. 169 interchange project will be put on hold and some other road projects will also stop.
  • Highway rest stops will be closed.
  • The Secretary of State's office will be closed and unable to record data for liens and loans, and title searches for cars and various other property won't be possible (real estate is handled at the county level, and won't be directly affected).
Here's what will keep going, at least for a while:
  • It was initially reported that the Stillwater Lift Bridge was initially going to be raised and left in the open position, blocking car traffic, but it has apparently been deemed critical to public health and safety—so Wisconsinites(!) can get to the hospital—and will continue operating.
  • Construction on the Central Corridor LRT is expected to continue, since funding has been appropriated in past years. It's mostly a Metropolitan Council project, but there are 19 Mn/DOT staff there for regulatory oversight and it's not clear what will happen with them.
  • Mn/DOT's traffic cameras will continue operating, but will only be available to traffic managers and will not be broadcast. Ramp meters will keep operating because Mn/DOT feels they deter crashes.
  • Metro-area transit will keep running for the time being. It's estimated that Metro Transit can keep going for about a month on cash reserves. (The bank accounts of suburban providers are bigger as a proportion to their annual budgets, but the Met Council forced them to draw down reserves two years ago to bring them more in-line with Metro Transit's financial situation.) Minnesota Valley Transit Authority is the largest suburban provider, and they can supposedly run for 60 days on reserves.
And just because you might feel like breaking something after thinking too much about politics, here's a Finance & Commerce video of the demolition of the old Bremer Bank building in downtown Saint Paul:

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