Driving / Parking, Minneapolis
Minneapolis, St. Paul and Minnesota lost millions of dollars of Federal freeway funding because they insisted on the local need for too many freeway entrance and exit ramps located too close to each other, insisting that each major street have direct access to the freeway system. So, they lost the Federal money and built a system that is dangerous with short accelleration ramps, crossings of traffic lanes to get off or on the freeways, and dangerous merging of freeways with high accident rates. Be careful driving and study the maps before planning a trip around the metropolitan areas. Minnesota has a very short road construction season because of the harsh winter weather, so driving in construction/road repair zones is constant in the good weather months. This does not make driving any easier, with barriers, detours, reduced-speed zones and round-the-clock roadwork. The harsh winters produce what is known as 'frost-heaves' on the roads from freezing water cracking and uplifting the road bed, so repair is a constant need.
Over 50 years ago, before the Federal freeway system, Chicago made this similar mistake with the old Congress Street expressway that goes from Michigan Avenue under the main post office building. They fixed the problem by permanently closing many of the entrance and exit ramps, reducing traffic accidents substantially. Minnesota should do the same around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The phone number for Minnesota statewide road condition information and construction detours is given below.
Clearing Minneapolis - and some suburban - streets of snow after a big winter storm requires that vehicles be removed from streets being plowed. The city(s) will issue a formal Snow Emergency alert to give citizens and visitors a few hours to move their cars, and no parking will be allowed on EITHER SIDE of streets with a red “Snow Emergency Route” sign until that street has been fully cleared.
But it’s more complicated than that: after the first emergency day, odd-even parking procedures go into effect on NON - snow emergency routes:
On day 2 after the alert has been issued, no parking is allowed on the sides of the streets where house addresses end in an even number (2012, 6088, etc.)
On day 3, no parking is allowed on the sides where house addresses end in an odd number (2089, 10013, etc.)
Once a street has been fully plowed - meaning cleared of snow to the curbs - then it’s OK to park anywhere parking is normally allowed.
Yep, even the locals find it confusing! It’s a really good thing to be aware of though as the city WILL tow your car if you’re parked in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it costs a bundle to get it out of the impound lot: pleading ignorance will get you nowhere.
In the suburbs, emergency routes aren’t as common but it’s often illegal to park on residential streets overnight at any time of the year. You probably won’t get towed unless you let your car sit there for days but you could get a ticket, and you could find yourself plowed in the morning after a snow event - as the fella in my photo did.
See the website below for more details on winter parking in the city.
Winters are murder on our roads. Continual melt and refreeze of snow and ice creates holes in the asphalt deep enough to do a real number on the tires and struts of your car if you hit one at anything but a crawl. Having forked out $600-$800 for new struts on both of our cars, I know this to be fact. Even worse, they can be potentially deadly if struck at high speeds or on a motorcycle.
They are most numerous in the spring before road crews can get out to fill them in so if you're here in March - May, watch out for these pesky craters, avoid them if you can, and slow waaaaaay down if you can't.
And if your Mini Cooper has gone missing, just check the bottom of the nearest pothole.
If you're not accustomed to driving in snow, please know that it is slippery and very dangerous. Minnesota has a great winter weather system in place, but sometimes, the plows and trucks don't get out in time to clear up the roadways. When this happens, accidents happen. On my way to work on Feb. 6th, a twenty-minute drive took me an hour. Why? On the stretch of highway I drive to work on, there were 7 accidents and 4 spin-outs (where the car loses control and spins into the ditch, a fence, or even another car.) There were nearly 300 total accidents that day in the Twin Cities metro area.
So please, if it's nasty and snowy and slippery out, either drive carefully, get a cab, or stay inside if you're not used to driving in this stuff.
Morning rush hour runs 7:30am - 9:30am, evening rush is 3:30pm - 5:30pm. ALWAYS allow extra time when driving during these times. Also be aware that often the general speed of traffic can be 10-15 mph over the posted speed limit.
Driving in Minneapolis:
The immediate downtown is quite safe.
The crime rate increases in areas around 40th south [and east of Niicollet Ave.] & heading into the downtown area. If you are a blonde female alone, make sure you have a cell phone at night.
The crime rate is most noticeable(crack houses scattered about and some gangs) NORTH of the downtown area. In this area you want a cell phone by day or night if you have car trouble. Things improve around 42nd Str. north.
Generally, you'll find Minnesotans politely friendly with a bit of Scandinavian reserve.
Driving around in the winter time isn't as bad as some people may say it is. The roads are usually pretty much kept clean. If it is your first time driving in snow...or if you get caught in a snowfall just take your time.
**Watch out for trucks!**
Many people (mainly men) in large trucks tend to drive fast in snow storms ... they think just because they are driving a truck that they are safe from spinouts. If they get up on your bumper just stay at the same speed you feel comfortable at...they will eventually pass you.
Also..one additional thing.... if you are not experienced driving on ice...JUST REMEMBER do not slam on your breaks if you feel you are spinning out of control! It will just make things worse. Take your foot off of the gas and break and let the car slow down on its own!!
Even the towing companies use the gopher as their logo!!! There is plenty of parking in the university area, but you'll pay for it!