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Man who stole MnDOT truck led police on chase through Newport



An Inver Grove Heights man apparently needed some instant transportation, so he helped himself to a MnDOT truck parked at a construction site and took off.

The suspect, a 33-year-old man who was not a MnDOT employee, was arrested after a short police pursuit through the southeastern suburbs. He was booked into the Dakota County jail and is awaiting first court appearance Wednesday.

The man hopped in a maroon Ford F-150 pick-up on Hwy. 61 south of 80th Street about 7:25 a.m. Monday and headed north. Crews working on the road immediately reported the theft to police.

Cottage Grove police spotted the vehicle around 80th Street and attempted to stop it. The driver kept going and officers from Hastings and the State Patrol joined the chase around Hwy. 61 and Glen Road. Speeds reached 30 to 55 miles per hours until officers were able to do a PIT maneuver and force the vehicle to come to a stop on the ramp from Maxwell Avenue to westbound I-494, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol.

Police briefly had the ramp closed while they arrested the driver.

The suspect was booked into jail an faces counts of felony fleeing of police and felony theft of a motor vehicle.

MnDOT does not have the truck back, agency spokeswoman Sue Roe said adding that it’s likely part of the State Patrol’s investigation.

There have been cases of MnDOT trucks stolen in the past, but “it’s obviously not an everyday occurrence,” he said.

No major setbacks for eastbound I-394 drivers

MnDOT put out a warning to drivers to expect significant delays on eastbound I-394 Monday morning, but big delays have not developed.  Traffic is moving remarkably well, MnDOT says.

Commuters have experienced minor congestion around Xenia Avenue where cars are being diverted onto the carpool lanes, but no major setbacks.

The eastbound I-394 main lanes along this stretch will stay closed for about two weeks to allow for joint repair and resurfacing. Construction along this span also means closure of some ramps, including eastbound I-394 to Penn Avenue, Penn Avenue to eastbound I-394 and northbound Hwy. 100 to eastbound I-394.

MnDOT recommends that drivers heading north on Hwy. 100 continue to eastbound Hwy. 55. However, using ramps at Glenwood or Duluth Street and heading back south on Hwy. 100 may work just as well as southbound Hwy. 100 drivers can access the I-394 HOT lanes.

Drivers traveling south on Hwy. 100 to eastbound I-394 will take the high-occupancy ramps.

The westbound lanes of I-394 between Minneapolis and Golden Valley were shut down for resurfacing and joint repair for two weeks in July.

As MnDOT re-decks the Lyndale Avenue bridge over the Dunwoody/Hennepin exit, the bridge will remain closed through September. Drivers will be redirected to Dunwoody Boulevard to access westbound I-394 and to Hennepin Avenue, 11th Street and Linden Avenue to avoid the road closure and get back on Lyndale.