The secret to avoiding the snarls on northbound Hwy. 169 and 35W is to hit the road before 6:30 a.m. Up until then, traffic across the Minnesota River flowed freely, but after, it just crawled. At this hour, northbound 35W remains clogged from the Burnsville Split up to 94th Street, making it a 30-minute trip into downtown Minneapolis.

Northbound 169 is starting to thin out, but be ready to hit the brakes from the Bloomington Ferry Bridge up to Anderson Lakes Pkwy. That trip is 12 to 15 minutes at present.

The big traffic crunch is due to river crossings that are closed at Hwy. 101 and Hwy. 41.

A spate of crashes in the 8 a.m. hour tangled traffic on westbound 494 from Lake Drive in Woodbury over to Dodd Road. At one time there were three separate wrecks bogging down the drive.

The drama in Coon Rapids came from a school bus fire on eastbound Hwy. 10 at Egret Blvd. The fire at 7:50 a.m. had traffic at a standstill from Round Lake Blvd to the Hwy. 610 interchange. Traffic is moving fine now.

Westbound commuters using I-94 from Manning Avenue to downtown St. Paul has extra company today as drivers who normally use the Stillwater Lift Bridge dropped south to get across the St. Croix River. Traffic was heavy all morning. At present. look for a small jam up from White Bear Avenue to Hwy. 52.

Westbound Crosstown drivers rode the brakes from 28th Avenue to Hwy. 100 for the middle portion of the rush, a trip that averaged 15 to 18  minutes from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m.  Things are still sluggish on that stretch.

Road work took out the right lanes on westbound 394 at Plymouth Road and that led to backups beginning just past Hwy. 169.  Eastbound ran below the posted speeds from 494 to Wirth Pkwy. At the worst, it was 18 minutes from 494 to downtown Minneapolis.

A pair of wrecks also snarled traffic on Hwy. 252 from 610 to Brookdale Drive in the 7 a.m. hour.

Transit operators did not report any problems today. Trains and buses ran on schedule.

That's it for today. I'll be back Wednesday with more live traffic reports and news.

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