Weekend traffic flow good despite work on I-94 section

  • Article by: RANDY FURST and N ORMAN DRAPER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: August 18, 2007 - 10:27 PM

There were slowdowns and a few minor bottlenecks, but overall there were no reports of serious congestion.

Apart from some minor congestion on Saturday, transportation officials noticed little effect from the weekend closing of a 3-mile section of Interstate 94.

Nick Thompson, east area manager for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), said traffic was generally running smoothly for much of the day except for some slowdowns for drivers heading eastbound on I-94 toward downtown Minneapolis.

Westbound I-94 lanes and other major highways linked to I-94 detour routes were also causing few headaches.

No traffic problems were reported on metropolitan freeways before or after the game between the Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers on Saturday night despite a paid attendance of 41,037.

Interviews before the game with more than three dozen fans starting about 5:30 p.m. indicated only a handful of bottlenecks.

On the south side of Minneapolis on the border with Richfield, traffic was a little slow going east on Hwy. 62, the Crosstown Expressway, as it merges with I-35W.

Curt Doble, 53, of Hugo, Minn., said that he and his daughter, Amanda, 26, were stalled in traffic on 4th Street SE, the last exit on I-35W before the collapsed bridge over the Mississippi.

Eight blocks in 45 minutes

Doble estimated it took him about 45 minutes to drive eight blocks west from I-35W to Central Avenue along 4th Street SE, but they still made it in time for the game.

As the game began, there was little traffic on eastbound I-94 from the northern suburbs into Minneapolis. "It looked like the conditions we see at midnight," said Beth Petrowske, MnDOT public affairs coordinator. "It's very light."

After the baseball game, state transportation officials said there were no traffic problems on any of the freeways. They also saw no major problems on the main streets and avenues in Minneapolis.

Thompson said it may have had something to do with the Twins 5-0 loss.

"The game wasn't too close, so the crowd probably didn't leave at the same time," he said.

MnDOT traffic flow maps did show some congestion near I-35 and I-494 in Bloomington late in the afternoon, but it was unclear whether that was related to the I-94 closing.

The interstate is being closed all weekend between I-35 and Hwy. 280 so workers can temporarily widen it to eight lanes. That part of I-94 is part of the designated detour around the I-35W bridge, which collapsed Aug. 1.

Officials also were reporting little effect of the I-94 closing on bus and light-rail transit Saturday.

There were more riders on light-rail trains heading for the Mall of America, said Julie Johanson, assistant general manager for Metro Transit, but that was due to a 1987 Twins autograph event at the mall.

ndraper@startribune.com • 612-673-4547 rfurst@startribune.com • 612-673-7382

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