Minnesota Department of Transportation officials say motorists who drive on I-694 in the northern suburbs can expect delays when construction resumes sometime this week, but they won't be nearly as nightmarish as the logjams they experienced last summer.
Crews were unable to complete all the work that needed to be done to the freeway between Hwy. 252 in Brooklyn Center and I-35W in Arden Hills last fall. So they'll be back on the job finishing joint repairs and smoothing out the concrete surface, said MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard.
Last year, the $21.1 million project brought lane and ramp closures at all hours of the day from mid-June until November. Those spawned major traffic snarls, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours.
This time around, closures will be primarily limited to nights and non-rush hour periods during the day, MnDOT said.
"People need to watch out for construction activity," Barnard said. "There will be a little disruption, but not like anything we saw last year."
But there will be times when entire lanes and interchanges will be shut down. Eastbound 694 will be closed at the I-94 interchange May 2-4 for resurfacing. Westbound 694 will be closed from Hwy. 10 and Silver Lake Road May 16-18.
At some point before all the work is complete - right now scheduled for June 6 - there also will be closures near the interchange of Hwy. 100 and Shingle Creek Pkwy., Barnard said.
As the first high-profile project of the construction season gets underway, Barnard put out a plea to drivers to obey detours and not to drive around cones and barrels.
"Last summer, that was a daily occurrence," he said. "We have people driving where the concrete was gone and we had one guy hit. We don't want a repeat."
Two other projects of note are on tap for this weekend. The Crosstown in both directions will be closed between Hwy. 100 and I-35W to allow crews to install deck panels on the new Xerxes Avenue bridge in Edina.
In St. Paul, I-94 will be closed between Hwy. 61 and I-35E to allow for demolition of the Lafayette Bridge.
Both closures will be in effect from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday.