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Vikings, Met Council to split bridge cost

Cali Owings//July 8, 2015

Vikings, Met Council to split bridge cost

Cali Owings//July 8, 2015

The Minnesota Vikings will pitch in half the cost for a $7 million pedestrian bridge that will link the Downtown East light rail platform to the team’s new stadium.

The Metropolitan Council is once again set to approve an agreement with the team at its meeting Wednesday for the controversial bridge. But this time the Vikings are chipping in.

While Met Council members supported building the bridge over Chicago Avenue to separate pedestrians from frequent light rail trains on game days, they wanted the team to help pay for it and were quite vocal about it. Under previous agreements, the Met Council would have paid for the entire construction cost.

The team has agreed to pay up to $3.5 million for the construction of the bridge. Costs greater than $7 million will be the sole responsibility of the Met Council. In exchange, the team gets 50 percent of the advertising revenue generated on the light rail platform for 30 years.

Under the deal, the Met Council will receive $300,000 in promotional revenue from the Vikings and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority in exchange for naming rights and advertising restrictions on the platform.

While the agreement isn’t finalized yet, Vikings spokesman Lester Bagley said Tuesday that the team felt the safety concerns were too important to pass by. One option on the table was to build the footings for a bridge and decide later if it should be built.

“From the analysis we’ve seen from the pedestrian traffic and the frequency of trains, we think it’s a significant issue for the stadium and people who live and work in the area,” Bagley said.

Previously, the team said safety concerns at the platform crossing weren’t a Vikings issue because they affect anyone who uses the light rail platform and visitors for other events besides football games. Bagley pointed out again Tuesday that the concern is for more than just Vikings games.

“For every event, there’s going to be a need to clear those LRT tracks,” he said.

Bagley said he hoped the new agreement would bring the bridge issue to a close.

The proposed bridge will be 30 feet wide and include two elevator banks, as recommended by accessibility advocates.

The bridge is meant to accommodate large crowds before and after events at the stadium and an increase in the number of light rail trains. With the Blue Line and Green Line now serving the station, and future light rail extensions planned to Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie, the frequency of trains is expected to increase. Metro Transit runs additional train trips on event days.

Projections from Metro Transit show that the average wait time to cross the LRT tracks would be 14 to 16 minutes without a bridge. Pedestrians would have to wait through six passing trains. A 30-foot-wide bridge reduces the delay to a maximum of five to six minutes.

Eden Prairie-based EVS Engineering is designing the bridge.

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