By Bryant Ficek, PE, PTOE
Super Bowl LII is coming to our world headquarters city of Minneapolis, Minnesota in February 2018. As one might imagine, the planning for bringing a major event is immense. For two weeks, the eyes of the sporting universe will be here as the worldwide press, about 1 million tourists, and two NFL teams converge. Naturally, our primary thought was how this impacts traffic operations.
Besides our genuine interest in traffic, it’s what we do after all, our office is located just across the river from the downtown area and will be on the edge of the main festivities. We are very curious as to what this means for our daily trips to and from the office. Now about two months from the date, the City of Minneapolis recently released the initial traffic plans, which gives us a glimpse of their expectations.
The link above shows three maps with some details about the closures. Here are some highlights from our review:
- Road closures and restrictions will begin January 2, 2018, just over a month before the actual game, and won’t fully end until February 11, 2018, a week after the game ends.
- All traffic changes will be in effect on January 26 through at least February 4, the day of the game.
- The road restrictions are concentrated into three groups:
- Those for Super Bowl Live; a massive fan festival leading up to the game
- Those for the Super Bowl Experience; an interactive NFL theme park and retail space centered around the Minneapolis Convention Center
- Those for the Super Bowl itself at US Bank Stadium
Beyond the closure maps, the Know Before You Go website and PDF document is a great tool for anyone trying to get into downtown. This document provides some common sense tips (always good reminders), highlights mass transit options, shows recommended routes for driving into the area, gives parking guidelines, discusses Uber and Taxi options, and presents our skyway system, which is likely very unique to any of our warmer weather visitors. My favorite part, discussion of snow emergencies and particularly the winter weather attire. Temperatures were around freezing last year in February and expected to be between 17°F and 34°F during the week before the game. That not bad for us, but could be a shock to many visitors.
I like the information provided so far. It provides a great overview without overwhelming and shows all the options available. If teemed with individualized information at specific hotels, this will help smooth some the expected craziness. That’s not to say we won’t have traffic problems. We will. But the City is doing a great job of being proactive and helping visitors out as much as possible. As for our own trips to the office, Jon Wertjes, Director of Traffic for the City of Minneapolis had some good advice: “Show up early, stay late, and enjoy downtown.”