Minneapolis: Transportation

Approaching the City

Located southeast of downtown Minneapolis, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport is in the midst of a three-phase, $860 million expansion in 2005. In 2004, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was named Best Airport in the Americas and Best Domestic Airport by the International Air Transport Association and Airports Council International. The airport is served by ten major domestic carriers. Six reliever airports are also located in the metropolitan area. Amtrak runs a major east-west line from Chicago and the East into Saint Paul.

Two major interstate highways serve Minneapolis: I-94 (east-west) and I-35W (north-south). Two belt-line freeways, I-494 and I-694, facilitate travel around the Twin-City suburbs. Seven federal and 13 state highways link the city with points throughout the United States and Canada.

Traveling in the City

Minneapolis is laid out on a grid pattern, with streets south of Grant Street intersecting on a north-south axis and those north of Grant running diagonally northeast-southwest. Residents think of their hometown as made up of five major parts: North Side, South Side, Northeast, Southeast, and downtown, each with its own distinct character and attractions. The Minneapolis Skywalk System connects major downtown public buildings and retail establishments with elevated, covered walkways. There are also smaller communities such as Uptown on the South Side and Dinkytown on the edge of the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus.

Serving Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and the surrounding suburbs is the Metropolitan Council Transit Operations (MCTO), the second-largest bus system in the United States. Additional bus service is provided by five private operators, including Gray Line, which conducts sightseeing tours, stopping at Nicollet Mall and at various hotels in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The city is noted for efficiency of commuting time: the freeway system, moderate population density, and two central business districts contribute to high levels of mobility during peak and non-peak hours.

In 2004 the first route of the Hiawatha Light Rail Transit (LRT) was opened to the public; the light rail will be developed to include 13 miles or rail along Hiawatha Avenue taking passengers into downtown Minneapolis, the airport, and the Mall of America.