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Metro Transit Workers Vote To Authorize Strike During Super Bowl Festivities

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) --One million visitors are expected to soon crowd Twin Cities' streets and highways over the upcoming 10-day Superbowl festival.

On Monday, the Minnesota Super Bowl host committee unveiled the transit plan designed to do that as painlessly as possible.

But while Metro Transit plans to have more trains and busses rolling to help ease the congestion, many are wondering who will be driving the buses and trains.

"We don't want to strike during the Super Bowl, but we feel like we're being forced into this position," Amalgamated Transit Union local 1005 president Mark Lawson said.

The 2,500-member ATU local voted Monday night to reject a three-year contract offer and authorize a strike. Members are unhappy over a deal which does little to address their driver safety concerns. The union said in a statement "there is still time to avoid a strike" and they hope to reach an agreement with Metro Transit soon.

"There's still time for Metro Transit to sit down with us so we can hammer this out to get a contract," Lawson said. "We don't want to go past that point with our contract still open."

Metro Transit general manager Brian Lamb knows full well -- there's no other choice but to avoid what most certainly would be super chaos.

"We are very optimistic we'll reach a negotiated settlement with ATU, just as we have each of the last five contract periods," Lamb said.

"Our goal is to minimize the impact and maximize the fun," said Kyle Chank, the committee's vice president of operations and logistics.

One way they hope to do that is allowing visitors and fans to reserve downtown parking spots using a new app. That app should be active in mid-December.

But commuters and football fans should be aware that a number of streets in and around downtown Minneapolis will close, beginning with Chicago Avenue near U.S. Bank stadium beginning early January. Nicollet Mall will shut down and cross streets will be restricted in lanes beginning Jan. 15. Two blocks of South Eighth Street crossing the mall will also be closed to traffic.

The drive immediately in front of the Minneapolis Convention Center will close to traffic on Jan. 24.

"One of the things we will be doing is providing later service," Metro Transit general manager Brian Lamb said.

For more information on the Super Bowl transit plan, visit the Super Bowl's website.

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