Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't tread on me

University Avenue has changed. Gone are the days of the ambiguous 15' shoulder. But it seems that people are having a hard time coping with that reality. The solution? To park on the sidewalk. I saw three trucks do it this morning. Cough. Contractors. Cough.

It seems hard to imagine, that you would need to remind people that cars belong in the street, not idling on the precious 10' reserved for humans. It also wish it was more apparent that we just spent millions of dollars on those new curbs, sidewalks, and fancy paver stormwater systems. Maybe some ticketing would make that more obvious. I guess it's back to the construction hotline.

P.S. Contractors: opening both lanes of traffic and parking work trucks on the sidewalk doesn't count as construction being done. But I applaud your ability to think outside the box. You sure are getting more creative!

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Thank goodness it's December. Ha! Never thought I would say that in Minnesota.

But it's official, and kind of adorable.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last Day. Maybe.

The last "official" day of the LRT construction season has arrived. I wish I knew what that meant. Here's a video update of how it's looking out there this morning.

Raymond, looking pretty finished with its embedded track.

Fairview, squarely in the "we didn't get rail put in this season" club.

And Snelling...looking...kinda rough.

This doesn't so much look like the last day of construction. Seems like I'll have plenty to report over the winter months...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Outta here

The final days of the construction season have seemed to have turned into a free for all - orange barrels everywhere. I kicked one in the Spruce intersection and I tromped through, disgusted about the combination of the slushy sidewalks and the lame Snelling/University bus transfer (hint: it's not at Snelling or University). So I'm out. Time for me to take my pumpkin bread and head south for the holiday. Hope it's done when I get back!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

[Note: this post was temporarily lost in the blogspot ether when my app crashed last week. Sorry it took a week to get from drafting to publishing!]

Location:Snelling & University

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reality check

As it turns out, this is Minnesota in November. I guess it had to start sometime...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Signage overhaul, please

I stopped by Axman tonight to search for some holiday craft supplies. And I suddenly realized that LRT construction could be much improved by paying the Axman staff to take charge of all traffic and pedestrian signage. These people really excel at telling you exactly what you need to know about any situation.

In case you've never been to Axman (although it blows my mind that people haven't found the time in the last 50 years to visit), this store is a purveyor of everything you may or may not ever need. As they say on their website FAQ:

Q: Do you have one of these?
A: Yes, probably. I think so...You should come in and look around to see for sure. Despite our vast collection of oddities and merchandise, the law of probability tells us that we probably don't have exactly what you're looking for, but we probably have something close, maybe even better than you'd imagined!

Couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, this is pretty much the conversation I have with the staff every time I go in there. For whatever reason, I seem to need oddities often. Tonight I was on a hunt for small jar-like things (must have lids), pricing stickers for our holiday craft sale, and badge lanyards that I could rearrange into more interesting badge lanyards. What I wasn't looking for - but desperately needed upon discovery - was masking tape in every color. 75 cents a roll? Get out. I love a deal.

But the best part about Axman is the signs. You should really go there periodically just to walk around and catch up on all the signs.

The rewarding part about this one is that the bucket was too high on the shelf for me to see in. So I read the whole sign before looking.

This is a classic. See how they explain to me exactly how to use a tiny bike chain? Clarity from confusion. We need this in the construction zone.

Love the handwriting on this one. Must have more traffic signage in cursive.

A huge cop-out. So lazy it made me giggle.

Clearly there is way too much talent being hoarded by this one establishment. At the very least, they could come outside and cover everything in reflective tape and thousands of red bicycle blinky lights. Night work is not nearly blinky enough.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ding! Round 2.

I used to have an Irish dancing t-shirt (oh yes) that said, "Luck is real, and the harder you work, the more luck you have." I'm pretty sure that doesn't apply to building giant construction projects. No. This is what they call "dumb luck."

I mean, if you absolutely had to be working in construction - in November - in Minnesota, this is about the best weather you could ever have. So after a fairly pathetic effort on the part of precipitation, Round 2 of this not-so-epic battle between Mother Nature and Construction goes to Walsh Construction. You got lucky, guys.

And while things on the west end have gotten blissfully sleepy as of late, today I was happy to see some new walls being installed on the back of the station platforms at Westgate.

The weather is so good, we've moved on to decorating!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Best and Worst of the Week

November has made me feel lazy on the blog front, like if I just hibernate a little, Thanksgiving will come sooner.

So in the spirit of clip shows and other tactics of non-writing, I give you best and worst of the week.

Best: New bus shelter at Raymond and University.

It was like someone at Metro Transit heard that it was predicted to rain/snow/slush today and ran out to throw up this shelter at Raymond. It is so new that there were still lots of little metal shavings on the sidewalk from its installation. I am sad to admit it's winter, but happy to have something to cover my head.

Worst: Where the Sidewalk Ends.

That is to say, these days the sidewalk ends just about everywhere you are trying to go. I like new sidewalks (A LOT), but I reserve the right to be annoyed that I can't get a little detour action while they are being installed. ADA? Nobody? Ok, maybe I'm just high maintenance. But I think this poor guy across the street agrees with me. Btw, this whole scene gets waaaay more fun in the dark (5 pm) when people can't tell that the sidewalk is missing. It's like the X-Games. Only nobody wants to play.

Best: The (temporary) pedestrian bridge at Hampden.

I feel like the crews may have built this specifically for me to take these two photos from the middle of the guideway. So I did.

Worst: Gotcha, you're surrounded by orange tape.

Thanks, construction guys, for telling me that this sidewalk was closed/non-existent as I walked past 20 of you in this block. I love climbing through dusty construction tape in work clothes.

Best of the Best: My sister got a goldendoodle puppy this week. I mean, we're not going to do any better than that, people.

Worst of the Worst: Bus Driver got told.

You know how driving a bus is like, all sunshine and fatty benefits? No? Oh. Well, this guy apparently felt the need take out his road rage on this poor bus driver anyway. He got out of his car at a red light to walk back to yell at him, for...who knows what. All I know is that the bus driver is a better person than me - seems pretty tempting to just run this guy over. Way to keep your cool, Bus Driver Man. As for you, Mr. Yells-A-Lot, way to keep it classy. Why don't you scurry back to your car before I come chew you out for parking in a crosswalk?

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Sky miles

Back in April or so, when we were ditching our jackets and soaking in fresh spring air, the old Bremer Bank building was demolished along with the skyway connection inside it. Making room for an LRT station on the footprint, crews constructed an "interim" skyway above. That hamster opened today - right on schedule I might add. Official par-tay and use of giant scissors on ceremonial ribbon to follow tomorrow.

Very airport chic, no? Perhaps I will start referring to this as Terminal 3.

Also, a quick pet peeve of the day: my bus driver insists on picking up and reading a section of the newspaper at every red light. The obituaries! Nothing like driving around 40 people without seat belts while reading about death. No, that's not troubling at all. Dear Strib, please write an article on distracted driving.

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Location:High above 5th Street

Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween! Happy, indeed, because those little trick or treaters are not tromping through snowbanks. [I should note that it is my obligation as a Minnesota resident to talk about the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 as if I expect it to happen every Halloween, and then to also talk about how relieved I am every year when it doesn't happen. This was front page news today. Seriously.] In actual news, this project really needs decent weather for another month. Or three.

I do like any day that allows adults to walk around in broad daylight dressed as a giant whoopie cushion. Yeah, you try not to laugh when you are in line behind that guy at the post office. Although, I have to say, 8 am was a little to early for this costume, which stared at me creepily on the 50 bus this morning:

Can we keep the masks to ourselves until after I have consumed some caffeine? Pleeease.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The night crews think I'm crazy

Tonight is a big night. Crews are out there putting the final layer of asphalt and striping down to make the next big traffic switch - putting cars back on both sides of University. Very exciting. And kind of smelly, actually. Not pleasant stuff, that hot asphalt...

Ah, the stink of progress.

Things that occurred to me as I walked the dog along University Avenue tonight:

1. Today, this project has officially shifted in my mind from being totally overwhelming to totally doable (ha - you can tell I'm at home and not at work).

2. Time to reopen my Emerald bus stop, Metro Transit. No more excuses AND I want the 8 bus back. I needs me my buses back.

3. I really need to dig some mittens out of storage. Like, yesterday.

4. The night crews think I'm crazy. Meh, what's new?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 24, 2011

Its former glory

Who wants a personal tour of the Union Depot construction? You do!

The headhouse - coming right along. I am still digging the yellow. As Heidi Klum says on Project Runway: "Loooooks expensive!"

Space between the headhouse and the concourse - "To Trains." That wall with the mural is coming down at some point.

Beautiful tiled ceilings.

Insert clock here.

Ah, the concourse. Approximately one million tedious restoration tasks to go...this makes me feel more hopeful about my petty home improvement projects! Maybe they aren't so daunting.

Looking back and up towards the 2nd floor - that blank arch will be knocked out and replaced with windows to the room above. Primo upstairs restaurant space, anyone?

Looking out the side door - the last remaining original staircase.

The train deck restoration, which seems to stretch to about the St. Croix River (give or take a few feet). Lowertown on the left.

The new building addition at the northern end of the deck.

Frieze about transportation in St. Paul. I think they could add a little LRV somewhere, right?

Testing the paint colors - more yellow to come!

Much thanks to Josh, our stellar tour guide :)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

A sight for sore eyes

After a long day at work, and what seemed like an even longer bus ride home, I found a little beacon of hope. Actually two. The first trees to be planted on the new University Avenue.

Forget that it's cold and windy and they've already lost their leaves. Some days I feel like we're actually going to make it through this project. Thank god for that.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Exciting news. I got a new iPhone this week. That means better blog photos and video for you all to enjoy :)

More exciting news. Construction on University is really hauling down the avenue. It seems like everyday there is some big noticeable progress. Commence photo barrage.

New curbs at 1919 (between Prior and Fairview)

Rail being installed just west of Raymond (blurring obviously due to quickly moving rail and speedster workers...not related to me being on the bus...nope.)

Track on the 280 bridge!

Press on!

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Cedar Street Mine

I'm starting a new rumor: there's gold in Cedar Street! Or so it appears from the mine they have constructed.

Looking into the abyss, from skyway level

I hope they don't use explosives down there to shake the gold loose - they have some sensitive neighbors (MPR).

On a more serious note, today is a day of mourning. The snow plowing stakes have been put in on downtown curbs. Nooooooo! I'm so not ready for snow...

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Construction vs. Mother Nature

Creeping into mid-October, we're going to need some exceptional weather to pull off everything that needs to get done by December 1. And so far, we've gotten exactly that (ding! Round 1 goes to construction.)

So I was a little alarmed to see this today on the 280 bridge:

That red box on wheels reads: "Ground heater E3000. Thaw frozen ground. Cure concrete. Heat air." With another 75 degree day today, here's hoping that they won't have to fire up that sucker for a long time. Global warming, don't fail us now!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Harsh Truth

I spend a lot of time and moo-la buying food in the Central Corridor. So I am happy to see all the articles and foodie blogs encouraging people to do the same, especially during construction. But I had an bad experience today that made me a bit frustrated with the whole scene. Here's my advice: Come to the corridor. Spend heaps of money. But please don't give us your sympathy eats.

And by that I mean, don't just shovel down food and smile because you feel sorry for these businesses. Do it because you cherish them, and because so many of them are ridiculously good - some of the best in the Twin Cities.

So I'm a horrible person, I know. But here's the problem. Say you go to a certifiably amazing restaurant, like Homi or Little Szechuan or Hoa Bien or Maison Darras. You jump right onto Facebook, Yelp, UrbanSpoon, Twitter, etc. and proclaim to the world that you have in fact discovered the Central Corridor, and it is freaking delicious.

Then you read on those sites that someone else had lunch at another place that needs your support. What is this great place you've never tried? You must go there immediately and support that business, too! Except, at this other place - waaaah wah - the food sucks. The service is terrible. You hate the Central Corridor. How could someone have recommended this awful food? You never want to see University Avenue again. Or Saint Paul. You retreat to Eden Prairie and eat Lunchables in your car.

And so it goes. Now what if you had gone there first, and never found the really good stuff? We've put all restaurants on a even playing field during construction. Save the restaurants! The good, the bad, and the yucky! I admit I've been to new restaurants since construction started - ones I had never eaten at before and hopefully will never eat at again. And while that is the harsh truth, I feel like it's time to throw down. Impress me with your food first. Toss in some decent service and I'm yours for life. Being on the corridor is just not going to cut it for me, cause I need to eat well, even during construction.

So back to my bad day. I ordered a sandy from a restaurant that has been hurting from construction.* Actually, I ordered it 4 times, like I was in some sort of SNL skit or involuntary game of telephone. I think it went something like this.

"I'll try the chicken salad sandwich."

"Ok [writing it down]. You want a purple piano banana bingo salad, riiight?"

"Uh. No, I just wanted a chicken salad sandwich - no tomato."

"Oooook. Soooo, that's actually a sandwich. Not a salad. You want the salad?"

"No. I want the bread-shaped thing. A chicken salad sandwich. For the love of God."

$7.35 later, I had 3 chunks of chicken rolled in mayo and placed on the world's smallest ciabatta. With tomatoes. So, yep, that's the very last of my sympathy eats. Demand greatness, people. It's out there to be found.

*I know better, which is what makes me so mad about this situation. Maison Darras has the best chicken salad on the planet and I should never ever stray!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tracking progress

Track has come to my 'hood, and now that Berry Street has reopened, I can finally get some decent photos of the progress.

Looking east at the newly constructed westbound platform in front of KSTP. Yay for being able to go west on this train, too (watch out, Minneapolis!)

Looking east at track work, from Berry.

Rail detail

Beautiful beautiful embedded track, looking west from Berry.

Track crossing the colored concrete crosswalks.

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