How to navigate summer road construction -- with a sense of humor

  • Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 17, 2013 - 9:25 AM
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Road construction has just begun on I-94 between Nicollet Ave. and Cretin Ave. The construction could cause traffic headaches for next few months. This is the view from the Franklin Ave. bridge looking westbound on I-94

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

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When someone says “Let’s hit the road” this summer, they may actually want to knock it silly. Construction delays can do that to us. Now that winter is over, Minnesota’s second season has begun with road projects from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities, and from Duluth to Owatonna. So plan ahead, make www.mndot.org an online “favorite” and develop a sense of humor (and patience). Most of all, imagine how great these highways are going to be once — how to put this? — it starts snowing again.

Here are perhaps the most challenging projects to encounter this summer, and our tongue-in-cheek suggestions for dealing with traffic.

Hwy. 169
With four bridges being repaired, practice your zipper-merging skills on this stretch of lane closings: Drive to the merge point, then take turns. Practice “zip your lip” skills, too. Seriously, just let it go.

I-694
A tough stretch on nights and weekends. Look for entrepreneurs opening kiosks that sell sleeping bags.

 

I-35/I-35E
Possible site of pilot program using car carrier semitrailers to consolidate traffic flow. But it’s first-come, first-served to pull onto the more scenic upper decks.

 

Portland and Park Av. bridges over I-94 and I-35W
How about a Park ’n Zip here? Pull into a lot on Park Avenue and grab a zip line for the glide north over the freeways into downtown. A zip line on Portland Avenue will handle outbound commuters.

Hwy. 36
A 75-day shutdown will send drivers into the neighborhoods seeking new routes. Expect “Game of Thrones”-level competition among lemonade stands. Later this summer, look for aspirin stands.

 

I-35 from Faribault to Owatonna
Long-term lane closings make this stretch an option for those darling Little Free Libraries to offer books on tape. You may even have time to browse.

 

1-35 from Esko to Proctor
Watch for speed traps on each end of the 9-mile stretch of single lanes as drivers yearning to break free lose their heads and floor it.

I-94 from St. Cloud to Clearwater
Backups here could be a boon for food trucks: Order while you’re inching along, then pick up just before the lane closings end. Even better: carhops on roller skates. They’ll catch up with you — really.

 

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185

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