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Weekend traffic: Your Labor Day travel guide to getting around

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: August 29, 2014 - 9:23 AM

Labor Day weekend brings the last long weekend of the summer season and nearly 30 million Americans will take advantage by hitting the roads, the highest total since the recession of 2008, AAA says. Another 2.65 million will get away by air.

With that many cars on the road, expect popular getaway routes to be plugged up Friday afternoon and again on Sunday evening and Monday.  The good news is that gas prices should be at their lowest price on a Labor Day weekend since 2010, according to AAA.

The National Safety Council predicts 400 deaths and 42,000 injuries due to crashes. To that end, the council reminds motorists to refrain from using cell phones will driving, that all occupants wear seat belts and have a designated driver if alcohol is part of the weekend celebration.

Law enforcement will out looking for drunk drivers as a "Safe and Sober" campaign  And on Sunday they also will be enforcing the "Move Over Law," which requires motorists to move over a lane when passing squads and other emergency vehicles that have their flashing lights on.

The State Fair continues through Monday and the Renaissance Festival runs Saturday through Monday in Shakopee.

Metro Transit and Minnesota Valley Transit Authority buses, including routes 440, 444 and 445, will operate on a holiday schedule on Monday. Blue Line and Green Line trains will, too. No Northstar service.

Maple Grove Tranist will have two buses assigned back to back on the Route 781 p.m. trips 1, 2, 3, and Route 785 pm trip #1 to accomodate commuters returning home early for the Labor Day Weekend. No bus service on Monday.

On the roads, MnDOT says the ramp from westbound I-94 to northbound 35E in downtown St. Paul will open by the end of the day Friday. It's been closed for a month. And be extra cautious in work zones, including I-94 between Hwy. 101 in Rogers and Hwy. 241 in St. Michael. Road work in the area could slow traffic. In Monticello, lanes narrow and shift around in a construction zone between County Roads 18 and 75. The speed limit has been lowered to 55 mph. in the area so expect slow traffic.

Here is this weekend list of road projects in the metro area:

I-35E in St. Paul

The ramp from westbound I-94 to northbound I-35E is also closed for another week. A number of ramps between Little Canada Road and Maryland Avenue remained closed as work on adding a new MnPASS lane and reconstruction of 35E continues. Here is a list:

  • Little Canada Road to southbound I-35E
  • Southbound I-35E to eastbound Highway 36
  • Westbound and eastbound Highway 36 to southbound I-35E
  • Roselawn Avenue to southbound I-35E
  • Maryland Avenue to northbound I-35E
  • Northbound I-35E to Roselawn Avenue
  • Roselawn Avenue to northbound I-35E
  • Northbound I-35E to westbound Highway 36
  • Northbound I-35E to eastbound Highway 36
  • Westbound and eastbound Highway 36 to northbound I-35E
  • Northbound I-35E to Little Canada Road

Also note a lane closure on northbound 35E from I-94 to Maryland Avenue from 10 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.

Pennsylvania Avenue/Phalen Boulevard

Both directions of the road is closed at I-35E for two weeks. Motorists will be detoured to Jackson Street, University Avenue and Olive Street to bypass the closure. Once the road reopens, Pennsylvania Avenue/Phalen Boulevard will remain a single lane in each direction at I-35E through late 2015 for bridge construction.

I-35W and University Avenue/4th Street ramp near the U of M

Construction on northbound I-35W between the University Avenue/4th Street exit and Johnson Street continues. Prepare for slow traffic in the area as motorists navigate lane shifts and periodic closures. But some good news is the ramp from 4th Street and University to northbound 35W opened Thursday. The Hennepin Avenue ramp opened earlier this week.

Here are some of the impacts that remain:

  • Northbound I-35W between Washington Avenue and Hennepin Avenue will have periodic lane closures.
  • The three lanes of northbound I-35W between University Ave Northeast and the Johnson Street exit will remain open for the majority of the project, but will shift toward the center median.
  • The New Brighton Boulevard/Stinson Boulevard exit from northbound I-35W is closed. Motorists should use the Johnson Street exit. The New Brighton Boulevard/Stinson Boulevard exit will be closed permanently as crews reconfigure the Johnson Street ramp to serve Johnson Street, New Brighton Boulevard and Stinson Boulevard.

4th Street in downtown Minneapolis

This street closed from I-35W to Washington/Cedar Avenue until late September as crews reconstruct the road and new turn lanes for northbound I-35W entrance ramp.. Drivers can still get onto southbound 35W, but those heading to the University of Minnesota will need to follow this detour: Northbound on Park Avenue, then right on Washington Avenue to Cedar Avenue.

In heads-up, MnDOT will close the flyover bridge from northbound 35W to 3rd Street and downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday.

Hwy. 55 in Eagan

The section of highway between Lone Oak Road and the north intersection of  Hwy. 149 will have alternating lane closures through November. That means single lane in each direction.

Also in the area, Hwy. 149 will be single lane between I-494 and Hwy. 55.

Northbound Hwy 65 in Fridley, Spring Lake Park

Northbound Hwy 65 between Medtronic Parkway/Old Central Avenue and County Road 10 is closed and detoured.

Brooklyn Boulevard Bridge over Hwy 100

The County Road 152/Brooklyn Boulevard Bridge is closed to motorists and pedestrians through mid-October.

Hwy 61 in White Bear Lake

Hwy 61 between White Bear Avenue and north of Hwy 96 is reduced to a single lane. There are multipe streets that are closed where they intersect with Hwy 61.

Hwy 101 and County Road 144 in Rogers

Lane closures; Northbound to eastbound County Road 144 is closed; westbound County Road 144 to northbound Hwy 101 is closed; County Road 144 is closed between James Road and the Hwy 101 construction; Hwy 101 between South Diamond Lake Road and 147th Street is single lane.

I-494 and Cedar Avenue in Bloomington

Mall of America shoppers and those passing by on Cedar Avenue will need to be on alert for traffic switches, narrow lanes and construction between 66th Street and Old Shakopee Road.

The ramps from eastbound I-494 to northbound Cedar Avenue and the northbound Cedar Avenue to westbound I-494 will be closed through mid-October.

Motorists on eastbound I-494 who need to access northbound Cedar Avenue will be detoured to northbound 34th Street and back west on I-494.  Northbound Cedar drivers needing to go west on I-494 should use the west I-494/Hwy. 5 exit one-half mile to the south. Detour signs will be posted, MnDOT says.

Southbound I-35W ramp to westbound Hwy 13

The southbound I-35W ramp to westbound Hwy 13 is closed through late fall as part of a Dakota County project.

County Road 61/Flying Cloud Drive in Chaska

Look for flaggers and construction in the vicinity of County 61/Flying Cloud Drive and the intersection of Hwy. 101.

In addition, both directions of County Road 61 will close east of Great Plains Blvd. at Bluff Creek. Motorists traveling west on County 61 will not have access to the Hwy. 101 bridge into Shakopee. The bridge itself will be open to traffic between Shakopee and Eden Prairie.

94th Street Bridge over I-35W in Bloomington

The 94th Street bridge over I-35W in Bloomington is closed through mid-October. Ramps to and from northbound 94th are expected to be back open by Friday evening, MnDOT says. The southbound I-35W ramps to and from 94th Street will remain closed through mid-September

Hwy. 169 in Edina

The northbound lanes are closed from I-494 to Bren Road. Detour: Westbound I-494 to eastbound I-394 or eastbound I-494 to northbound Hwy. 100, then west on I-394.

I-494 in Plymouth

MnDOT is widening bridges between and other work ahead of a freeway expansion project that will bring a third lane in each direction between Hwy. 55 and Bass Lake Road. The northbound lanes at the Canadian Pacific Rail will be reduced to a single lane so crews can widen the bridge. Night and weekend lane shifts on I-494 can be expected through November as crews remove the guardrails to reconstruct the road shoulders.

Hwy. 7 in St. Louis Park

Be cautious as you pass through the bridge reconstruction zone at Louisiana Avenue. Traffic has been switched to the new Hwy. 7 bridge and a few changes go into effect Friday.

  • The ramp from westbound Hwy 7 to northbound Louisiana Avenue will open.
  • Walker Street will open east of Louisiana Avenue and close west of Louisiana Avenue.
  • Lake Street will open east of Louisiana Avenue and closed west of Louisiana Avenue.

Hwy. 36 in east metro

This long-running project has the road down to a single lane through Oak Park Heights and Stillwater from Hwy. 5 to Hwy. 95.

I-694 ramp to southbound 35E in Little Canada

The exit ramp is closed. Road maintenance work is in progress.Expect delays through the completion of the project set for Sept. 19.

Traffic will detour east on I-694 to Hwy. 61 and use the loops to return westbound to southbound I-35E.

Minneapolis Parkways

The Minnesota Distance Running Association takes over Webber Parkway and Victory Memorial Drive on Monday from 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Weekend traffic: A sports trifecta, road work and DWI enforcement

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: August 15, 2014 - 11:44 AM

It's a sports trifecta as the  Lynx, Twins and Vikings have home games that will bring extra traffic to downtown Minneapolis while the Renaissance Festival has its opening weekend in Shakopee. 

Meanwhile the grand opening of the Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall in Eagan continues through Sunday, and of course, road construction season rolls on with a spate of work projects across the metro area.

If you drink, don't drive. Law enforcement will be stepping up its efforts to catch drunk drivers as a safe and sober campaign runs through the end of the month.

Vikings

Fans heading to this weekend's preseason Vikings game won't have to fight rush hour traffic to get to TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota where the team takes on Arizona at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Expect ramp jams on I-94 at Huron Blvd. and on I-35W at the University Avenue/4th Street exits, the two main ways to get to campus from the freeways.

Here are a few tips from the folks at the University Parking and Transportation Services: Because of limited road capacity around the stadium, fans should anticipate that streets around campus will be congested for about one hour after the game. Incidents on the roadways or freeways can increase exiting time. On game days, drivers should anticipate congestion and delays while traveling to and around campus. Carpooling and using transit are highly recommended. Here is parking information.

Transit

Metro Transit will have its hands full both this weekend as both the Twins and the Vikings have home games on Saturday night.  Northstar trains for the 6:10 p.m. Twins-Royals game will leave Big Lake at 4:23 p.m.  A train for Vikings fans will leave Big Lake at 5:13 p.m.  The Lynx game against the Tulsa Shock begins at 7 p.m. at Target Center.

Renaissance Festival

Look for extra activity, lane restrictions and lower speed limits on Hwy. 169 in the vicinity of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee. This is the first of seven weekends featuring themed entertainment on 16 stages. This weekend's offerings include the World Amateur Highland Games, a kilt competition and a keg toss.

Outlet mall in Eagan

Extra time will likely be needed to get into and out of the new outlet mall at Hwy. 13 and Cedar Avenue. Directional signs will help guide you, but be prepared for lots of traffic. You can see travel tips in my Thursday blog post.  To make it easy, Metro Transit is offering free rides on the Blue Line. The Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) is offering free rides on the Red and routes 437, 438, 440, 444, 445 , 472 and 475. You need to download a coupon to ride fare free.

And now onto road construction:

Metro area road work

94th Street Bridge over I-35W in Bloomington

The 94th Street bridge over I-35W in Bloomington is closed through mid-October. Ramps to and from 35W to 94th are closed for the next several weeks.

Hwy. 55 in Eagan

The westbound lanes of Hwy 55 will be closed between Lone Oak Road and the north intersection of  Hwy. 149. Detour: Use Lone Oak Road and Lexington Avenue   The eastbound lanes will remain open.

Also in the area, Hwy. 149 will be single lane between I-494 and Hwy. 55.

University Avenue/4th Street ramp near the U of M

A detour is in place for drivers who use the ramp to access northbound 35W. It is closed for a couple weeks in conjunction with a project to build an auxiliary lane from University Avenue to Johnson Street. Here's how to get onto northbound 35W:

Take 10th Avenue north to Johnson Street, then east on Broadway Street to the New Brighton Blvd ramp to northbound 35W.

MnDOT will open the ramp for a couple hours Saturday following the Vikings game to help get traffic off campus.

4th Street in downtown Minneapolis

Utility work has this street closed from I-35W to Washington/Cedar Avenue until late September. Drivers can still get onto southbound 35W, but those heading to the University of Minnesota will need to follow this detour: Northbound on Park Avenue, then right on Washington Avenue to Cedar Avenue.

Look for the flyover bridge from northbound 35W to 3rd Street and downtown Minneapolis to close next week.

Northbound Hwy 65 in Fridley, Spring Lake Park

Northbound Hwy 65 between Medtronic Parkway/Old Central Avenue and County Road 10 is closed and detoured.

Brooklyn Boulevard Bridge over Hwy 100

The County Road 152/Brooklyn Boulevard Bridge is closed to motorists and pedestrians through mid-October.

Hwy 61 in White Bear Lake

Hwy 61 between White Bear Avenue and north of Hwy 96 is reduced to a single lane. There are multipe streets that are closed where they intersect with Hwy 61.

Hwy 101 and County Road 144 in Rogers

Lane closures; Northbound to eastbound County Road 144 is closed; westbound County Road 144 to northbound Hwy 101 is closed; County Road 144 is closed between James Road and the Hwy 101 construction; Hwy 101 between South Diamond Lake Road and 147th Street is single lane.

I-494 and Cedar Avenue in Bloomington

The ramp closures and lane restrictions near Mall of America go into effect at 8 p.m. Saturday. Here is the impact:

The ramps from eastbound I-494 to northbound Cedar Avenue and the northbound Cedar Avenue to westbound I-494 will be closed through mid-October.

Motorists on eastbound I-494 who need to access northbound Cedar Avenue will be detoured to northbound 34th Street and back west on I-494.  Northbound Cedar drivers needing to go west on I-494 should use the west I-494/Hwy. 5 exit one-half mile to the south. Detour signs will be posted, MnDOT says.

Cedar Avenue will remain open, but MnDOT says motorists need to be on the look out for traffic switches, narrow lanes and construction between 66th Street and Old Shakopee Road.

I-35E in St. Paul

The ramp from westbound I-94 to northbound I-35E is also closed for another couple weeks. A number of ramps between Little Canada Road and Maryland Avenue remained closed as work on adding a new MnPASS lane and reconstruction of 35E continues. Here is a list:

  • Little Canada Road to southbound I-35E
  • Southbound I-35E to eastbound Highway 36
  • Westbound and eastbound Highway 36 to southbound I-35E
  • Roselawn Avenue to southbound I-35E
  • Maryland Avenue to northbound I-35E
  • Northbound I-35E to Roselawn Avenue
  • Roselawn Avenue to northbound I-35E
  • Northbound I-35E to westbound Highway 36
  • Northbound I-35E to eastbound Highway 36
  • Westbound and eastbound Highway 36 to northbound I-35E
  • Northbound I-35E to Little Canada Road

Southbound I-35W ramp to westbound Hwy 13

The southbound I-35W ramp to westbound Hwy 13 is closed through late fall as part of a Dakota County project.

Eastbound I-494- Wakota Bridge

This should be the last weekend for lane closures on eastbound I-494 on the Wakota Bridge between Hardman Avenue in South St Paul and Maxwell Avenue in Newport. The freeway will be reduced to two lanes.

County Road 61/Flying Cloud Drive in Chaska

Look for flaggers and construction in the vicinity of County 61/Flying Cloud Drive and the intersection of Hwy. 101.

In addition, both directions of County Road 61 will close east of Great Plains Blvd. at Bluff Creek. Motorists traveling west on County 61 will not have access to the Hwy. 101 bridge into Shakopee. The bridge itself will be open to traffic between Shakopee and Eden Prairie.

Hwy. 169 in Edina

 We've had this one in placea couple weeks, but incase you are coming into town for any of the above events or coming back from the Renaissance Festival, here's your reminder: The northbound lanes are closed from I-494 to Bren Road. Detour: Westbound I-494 to eastbound I-394 or eastbound I-494 to northbound Hwy. 100, then west on I-394

I-494 in Plymouth

MnDOT is widening bridges between and other work ahead of a freeway expansion project that will bring a third lane in each direction between Hwy. 55 and Bass Lake Road. The northbound lanes at the Canadian Pacific Rail will be reduced to a single lane so crews can widen the bridge. Night and weekend lane shifts on I-494 can be expected through November as crews remove the guardrails to reconstruct the road shoulders.

A reminder that Schmidt Lake Road under 494 is closed. Motorists can bypass the closed segment by using Vicksburg Lane or Northwest Boulevard to County Road 47.

Hwy. 7 in St. Louis Park

Be cautious as you pass through the bridge reconstruction zone at Louisiana Avenue. Traffic has been switched to the new Hwy. 7 bridge, but there is no access to Louisiana Avenue.

Franklin Avenue

The next installment of the Minneapolis Open Streets events to promote healthy living, local businesses, sustainable transportation and civic pride in Minneapolis features music, entertainment and vendors. Franklin Avenue will be closed from Portland Avenue to 28th Avenue from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Minneapolis Parkways

The Lung Run and Walk will take place on Lake Harriet Pkwy. from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday.

On Sunday, the  YWCA Women’s Triathlon will have Nokomis, Minnehaha and West River parkways out of service from 7 to 11 a.m.

For those curious, the 1-mile segment of West River Parkway, between 4th St. S and Franklin Ave, will remain closed to vehicle and pedestrian / bicycle traffic for the foreseeable future. The Minneapolis Park Board says soil tests confirm that the parkway slope remains unstable  following those heavy June rainfalls.

6 a.m. update: Current travel times

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: August 14, 2014 - 6:04 AM

Northstar trains are running on the outbound track between Elk River and Ramsey, so there could be a few delay. The first inbound run was pretty much on time, so let's keep our fingers crossed that all trips will follow that.

On the roads, no crowds yet around the new outlet mall that opens today at Hwy. 13 and Cedar Avenue.  And no crowds on the roads anywhere really as traffic is moving footloose and fancy free.

Here are some current travel times:

North metro

Southbound 35W from 95th Avenue to downtown Minneapolis: 15 minutes

Southbound 35E from County 96 to I-94: 12 minutes.

Eastbound Hwy. 10 from Hwy. 169 to 35W: 12 minutes

Westbound 694 from 35E to Hwy. 252: 10 minutes. Eastbound is 10 minutes.

West metro

Eastbound 94 from Hwy. 101 to 494: 11 minutes

Southbound 494 from 94 down to 394: 8 minutes

Eastbound 394 from 494 to 35W via 94: 10 minutes

Southbound Hwy. 169 from I-94 to Crosstown: 13 minutes

Southbound Hwy. 100 from I-94 to Crosstown: 13 minutes

South metro

Northbound 35W from County 42 to Crosstown: 9 minutes    To downtown Minneapolis: 15 minutes.

Northbound Cedar Avenue from 35E to the Crosstown: 10 minutes

Northbound 35E from County 42 to downtown St. Paul: 18 minutes

Northbound 169 from Canterbury Road to 494: 8 minutes

Eastbound Hwy. 212 from Dell Road to Crosstown: 11 minutes

Westbound 494 from Cedar Avenue to Hwy. 100: 7 minutes.  Eastbound 494 from Hwy. 169 to 35W: 5 minutes

Westbound Crosstown from Cedar Avenue to Hwy. 169: 7 minutes   Eastbound Crosstown from Hwy. 100 to Cedar Avenue: 6 minutes

East metro

Westbound 94 from Manning Avenue to downtown St. Paul: 10 minutes

Westbound 94 from 35E to the Lowry Hill Tunnel: 8 minutes.

Westbound Hwy. 36 from Edgerton Street to 35W: 6 minutes.

Keeping tabs on Monday's morning commute

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: August 11, 2014 - 5:25 AM

Good morning, commuters!

Here is something we have not had to deal with in a while: rain. With that, be sure to have your headlights and wipers on and do watch your speeds.

Today's the day MnDOT gets to work on the reconstruction of Hwy. 100 between 36th Street and Barry Street, which is just south of I-394. The good news is that most of the prep work will have little impact on traffic. The project eventually will bring some lane and weekend closures this fall. MnDOT will widen northbound Hwy. 100 ramp to eastbound Hwy. 7 and reconstruct the Canadian Pacific Rail Bridge and the Cedar Lake Trail Bridge.

Survey work on southbound 35W between downtown Minneapolis and 46th Street is over. The freeway is back open following a weekend closure.

No issues on the roads at this hour. I’ll be keeping an eye on the roads and rails this morning, reporting any delays or issues — and I will need your help.

If you see or hear about any congestion, delays or problems, e-mail drive@startribune or tweet @stribdrive.

Keeping tabs on Tuesday's morning commute

Posted by: Tim Harlow Updated: August 5, 2014 - 5:23 AM

Good morning, commuters!

Another glorious summer day is on tap according to meteorologist Paul Douglas, and we're starting out the Tuesday morning rush hour on a glorious note: No delays.

We do have a couple of work zones to be careful in, including eastbound I-94 from Huron Blvd. to Hwy. 280 where the right lane is closed and northbound I-494 at County Road 6.

I’ll be keeping an eye on the roads and rails this morning, reporting any delays or issues — and I will need your help.

If you see or hear about any congestion, delays or problems, e-mail drive@startribune or tweet @stribdrive.

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