There are lots of fun options for getting to and from the Lumberjack Days festival in downtown Stillwater this weekend, including biking and boating.
But most people will drive, and transportation officials are suggesting that festival-goers, especially those planning on using Minnesota Highway 36 – the main thoroughfare between the Twin Cities and Stillwater – to plan ahead. The highway is reduced to a single lane in each direction between Hilton Trail (just east of Interstate 694) and Stillwater Boulevard. There is no local street access to/from the highway at any of the intersections in this 5-mile stretch.
Minnesota 36 will remain a single lane in each direction through August as crews from the Minnesota Department of Transportation resurface the roadway.
Also of note: the westbound lanes of Minnesota 36 will be closed from North St. Paul to Maplewood from 9 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday; drivers will be detoured to westbound I-694 and southbound I-35E.
“Even with our best efforts, traffic will be very congested,” said Wayne Sandberg, director of public works for Washington County. “Plan ahead, and get downtown early if you want to be there for the events.”
ALTERNATE ROUTES TO STILLWATER
Other options to consider:
Take Interstate 94 east to Highway 95 and go north through Bayport to downtown Stillwater;
Come into downtown Stillwater from the north via Highway 96 through White Bear Lake and Dellwood;
Exit Minnesota 36 at Hilton Trail and use Washington County 12 to get to downtown
Go through Lake Elmo on Stillwater Boulevard.
“There are a lot of good alternative routes,” said Adam Josephson, MnDOT’s East Area Manager. “If they stay on 36, they should give themselves some extra time, but the stop light at Lake Elmo Avenue has been turned off, so there aren’t any stoplights in that stretch now, and people can’t get on or off, so traffic is moving pretty well.”
Crews are currently working on the eastbound lanes of Minnesota 36; drivers heading eastbound and westbound have been diverted to the westbound lanes. In a couple of weeks, crews will switch traffic to eastbound lanes. Josephson said the goal is to finish the work and have all lanes of traffic open before the Minnesota State Fair, which starts Aug. 25.
LUMBERJACK DAYS EVENTS
For Lumberjack Days, Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said he expects a steady stream of traffic throughout the weekend – not an onslaught of thousands like the crowd that overwhelmed downtown in 2004.
“We’ve got great music, but it’s spread out throughout the day both days, so I expect people will show up pretty sporadically,” he said. “It’s not like a surge of people coming to see one particular band. It’s not Lynyrd Skynyrd.”
Yam Haus headlines the free stage in Lowell Park on Saturday night, with openers Eleganza, Caballo Cosmico, Clay Fulton and the Lost Forty, and Ruben. Honeybutter will headline on Friday with openers Barley Jacks and The Sunken Lands.
One bright note this year is the downtown parking situation: No flooding on the St. Croix River means that the event can be in the grass in Lowell Park, Kozlowski said.
“So many years, we’ve had to move the event into our parking lots, which adds tons of stress on parking,” he said.
Kozlowski said he plans to ride his bike to the festival.
“The weather looks great,” he said. “It’s going to be a beautiful weekend in town. It’s going to be fun to see all those happy out-of-towners and locals coming together to hang out, enjoy some good beers, some good music and great food. It’s going to be totally awesome.”