According to updates from the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the two-year, $50 million Nicollet Mall reconstruction project is on track, on budget and will be largely finished by this November. The bronze Mary Tyler Moore statue, who has greeted passersby from her temporary home at the Minneapolis Visitor information (MVI), will soon reclaim her corner at 7th Street and Nicollet, in front of the former Dayton’s/Macy’s store. The light at the end of the tunnel can’t come soon enough for businesses, residents, commuters and shoppers who have been dodging traffic cones and sidewalk closures since the fall of 2015.
It has not been easy for businesses and restaurants located on Minneapolis’s “Main Street” that have endured interruptions, dust and street closures during construction. Bus and bike traffic were funneled to Hennepin Avenue and other nearby streets. The moving obstacle course of barricades challenged the 130,000 employees and residents who use or cross Nicollet Mall each day.
Until now, much of the work has been concentrated underground replacing the aging utilities infrastructure. The above ground work is now picking up steam and will last through the summer. Streetlights will be added later, along with an extensive public art collection and hundreds of trees. The finished product will weave the arts culture with the natural beauty of Minnesota – a sculpture garden within an urban forest.
Nicollet Mall will be one of the showcase destinations in preparation for the Super Bowl early next year when tens of thousands of visitors descend upon the city. Some bus routes will return to the street along with lanes for bicyclists. The new design incorporates the needs of pedestrians who will frequent restaurants, outdoor patios, storefronts and green spaces connecting the twelve-block stretch through the heart of downtown. Parts of the street will reopen near Orchestra hall by mid-summer as the work progresses block-by-block slowly eastward. Until then, Mary will keep her hardhat on.