DULUTH, MN– It’s going to be a pretty busy weekend in the heart of Duluth.
The Christmas City of the North Parade is on Friday night, as well as a Bulldog Hockey game against Colorado College at Amsoil Arena.
Saturday night is Bentleyville’s 2019 season opener, and the Bulldogs take the ice again.
A lot of people in the Canal Park and Bayfront areas is expected to make for very crowded roads.
Alleviating traffic in Canal Park has been something that MnDOT and the City of Duluth have been working on for quite some time.
Officials say they see it every year, and in addition to their preparations, they’re asking everyone driving down to come early and park strategically.
“They’re all coming into town about the same time, so the freeway backs up, the ramps tend to back up, so if people come early they can avoid some of that possibly,” MnDOT representative Beth Petrowski said.
Increased travel during the winter season isn’t anything new for MnDOT, and they already have preparations ready for the chaos.
“We’re going to have our changeable message boards up beginning on Friday morning, which well let people know that congestion is expected on Friday night and Saturday night,” Petrowski said.
Last year, the city of Duluth worked with the Metropolitan Interstate Council on a study about how to alleviate traffic in Canal Park.
The city is now implementing some of those changes.
“Most of the study recommended looking at parking, being more efficient with parking, and also involved quite a bit of way-finding signs to get the parkers to the ramps,” City Engineer Cindy Voigt said.
Voigt says parking is one of the biggest issues causing traffic congestion.
There are now plenty of new signs throughout the downtown area pointing towards recommended event parking.
Voigt says the farther you park from the very front of the event, the easier it will be to get in and out.
MnDOT representatives say the best way to track traffic and road conditions is through 511mn.org.
This can help drivers know which routes to take, and which to avoid.
In addition to the new signs, the city also bought new metal crowd-control fencing for pedestrians outside of the events.
Voigt says the city’s biggest priority is making sure everyone is safe, both the people walking and those driving in canal park.