Can I drive into downtown St. Paul?

Downtown St. Paul
Downtown St. Paul will be accessible by car, just not in the 2-3 blocks around the Xcel Energy Center
MPR photo/Tom Weber

The short answer is yes, and groups like the Chamber of Commerce are encouraging you to do so.

But it probably won't surprise you to hear that the closer you want to get to the Xcel Energy Center, the harder it will be.

The basic rule is that every road in St. Paul will be open and passable, with the exception of the two or three blocks around the X.

The boundaries where traffic will be restricted are St. Peter St., 10th St., I-35E, Chestnut and Warner Rd.

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I usually get off at the 5th St. exit from eastbound I-94 to get to work. But the city recommends I skip 5th St. and take either the 7th or 10th Street exits. I'll take 10th.

As I drive along 10th, everything to my right, or the south, is restricted. I'd need a pass or credential to get in. But there's one caveat to that.

Here on the right is St. Joseph's Hospital, the only hospital inside the restricted ring. The city is trying to get the word out that people will be able to get into this hospital if they have an emergency or are visiting a patient.

When I get to 10th and Cedar, it brings up another point. Roads like Cedar will be open, but you might still get stuck driving if a parade of protesters is passing. So, keep note of when and where those marches are scheduled to happen.

Other than that, most exits off the interstates will be open, but the city is recommending a few preferred paths.

- If you're coming north on I-35E into St. Paul, exit at Shepard Road or at 11th St.

- If you're going south on 35E, take the 10th St. or University Ave. exits.

- If you're on I-94 heading west, use the Kellogg or Highway 52 exits.

Police say they plan to have all the detour routes marked well enough to keep you moving around the restricted areas, but don't be surprised to see a few delays.

In all, 50,000-70,000 people work downtown, but some companies are encouraging people to work from home next week.

Still, the city is going to great lengths to make a trip downtown sound inviting, even when all the hub-bub is going on, and even if some spots would be better reached on foot.