RNC causes transportation issues

The Republican National Convention drew crowds of politicians, workers and protesters to the Twin Cities last week, causing several traffic snarls in downtown St. Paul, but few problems at the University. Metro Transit suspended bus service to downtown St. Paul on Sept. 1 from 2 p.m. until 5:30 p.m., but University officials said there were few problems on campus. Busing was suspended after protests near the State Capitol turned violent, Bob Gibbons, director of customer services at Metro Transit, said. âÄúThe police were pushing [protesters] back toward the state Capitol and closing off streets,âÄù he said. âÄúWe werenâÄôt sure if it was the safest environment to discharge passengers.âÄù But Bob Baker, director of the UniversityâÄôs Parking and Transportation Services, said everything went smoothly on campus. âÄúI have been out on the field, both walking and driving, in the last couple of days and IâÄôve not really observed any kind of significant issues,âÄù he said. The Saturday before the convention kicked off, the Gophers football team played at the Metrodome while an RNC-related event was being held in the Mill District. Jayme Jones, a first-year chemistry student, said she used the campus shuttle to get to the game and didnâÄôt notice any traffic problems. Metro Transit, however, faced other transportation challenges, Gibbons said, including sharing the road with 350 buses bringing delegates from downtown Minneapolis to St. Paul. âÄúWe were competing for limited road space, particularly on Sixth Street, which was the primary route for convention buses heading out of downtown,âÄù he said. Many preparations were made before the convention took off. âÄúWe spent months working with the host committee and law enforcement to understand how they were going to handle the convention,âÄù Gibbons said. Along with detouring 31 bus routes that run near the Xcel Energy Center, 25 extra buses were used to provide reliable service to Metro Transit customers. A dozen Metro Transit street supervisors were also placed in downtown St. Paul to manage rush hour and convention traffic, Gibbons said. Minneapolis, which housed delegates and hosted events during the RNC, had University students moving back to the Twin Cities and starting classes too. But the city took preparations to handle transportation issues during the RNC. Minneapolis police and public works departments coordinated to plan for extra traffic during the convention, according to the city of MinneapolisâÄô traffic website. According to the website, Minneapolis placed extra traffic control officers at busy intersections to make sure traffic flowed as efficiently as possible.