State lists $900M road projects

  • Article by: PAT DOYLE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 6, 2011 - 9:57 PM

The 258 road construction projects for 2011 reflect a scaling back from the $1.3 billion spent last season.

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This stretch of I-94 in Minneapolis will be resurfaced this summer.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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Brace yourself for the big spring and summer slowdown.

Miles of resurfaced highways, torn-up interchanges and bridge construction will be greeting motorists soon in the Twin Cities.

It's all part of nearly $900 million in state construction projects slated for 2011. While the spending is down sharply from last year, the traffic cones and detours promise more headaches after a harsh winter driving season.

"Construction season rolls around, you know what's going to happen: lane closures," State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske warned Wednesday.

Four of the busiest miles of I-94 in the Twin Cities will be narrowed from four to three lanes at a minimum in each direction beginning any week now.

The stretch from Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis to Cretin Avenue in St. Paul will be resurfaced, bridges will be repaired and a noise wall installed. The $26 million project is expected to last the entire summer.

"That will be a big one ... straight through Minneapolis," said Breanna Magee, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Crews might work 24 hours a day on the project, the stretch could be further restricted at night and eastbound or westbound lanes will be closed on some weekends.

Other major projects include more work on the Hwy.169/Interstate 494 interchange in the southwest metro and rebuilding the Hwy. 52 Lafayette Bridge in St. Paul. MnDOT also will be painting 13 bridges on I-94 between 49th Avenue and Shingle Creek Pkwy., which will result in periodically shutting down lanes of the freeway.

Those are among 258 state highway construction projects slated for 2011.

Construction on new projects accounted for $662 million of the $895 million to be spent this year. About $302 million of it will be spent in the metro and $360 million outstate.

The remaining $233 million will fund continued work on projects that began in previous years.

The plans for this year are more modest than the $1.3 billion in projects scheduled in 2010.

At a news conference at Union Depot in St. Paul, Gov. Mark Dayton expressed disappointment in the lower spending target, blaming it in part on diminished federal stimulus funding, which he said fueled spending in the past two years.

"I don't think it goes to the scope of all the needs," Dayton said of the 2011 spending package.

Dayton said he intends to bring options to the Legislature before the next session that will link transportation spending levels to quality of life.

"Will people be willing to invest more if they could reduce their daily commute by 10 percent ... 25 percent?" he asked.

MnDOT would have repaved more highways this spring and summer had there been more money available, said spokesman Kevin Gutknecht.

Other projects in the Twin Cities area include: a new interchange at Hwys. 101 and 13 in Savage a rebuilding of the Hwy. 36 and Rice Street interchange and replacing the Rice Street overpass in Roseville/Little Canada.

Projects elsewhere in Minnesota include:

• Replacing and repairing bridge and pavement on I-35 from Boundary Ave. to 26th Ave. in Duluth. This project began last year.

• Constructing four lanes on Hwy. 23 east of St. Cloud to Foley.

• A four-lane expansion, including bridges, on Hwy. 14 near Waseca.

Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report. Pat Doyle • 651-673-4504

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