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Weekend traffic alert: Shutdowns on I-94 in Midway area, Hwy. 100

As it's hot, hot, hot, motorists may find the biggest traffic snarls this weekend on roads leading to lakes, pools and all places cool.

Plan your routes now if you are heading to downtown Minneapolis for Friday's Lynx game at Target Center, free tours of U.S. Bank Stadium Saturday and Sunday or for the Aquatennial's fireworks display Saturday night. In the most significant impediment of the weekend, both directions of I-94 in the Midway between Lexington Parkway and I-35E will be closed Friday night to Sunday evening and a single lane from Lexington to Hwy. 280.

That could also impact fans heading to downtown St. Paul for the Lowertown Blues and Funk Festival, St. Paul Saints games at CHS Field or the Duran Duran concert Saturday and Drake and Future's "Summer Sixteen Summer" Sunday show at the Xcel Energy Center.

Back in Minneapolis, Lake Street between 42nd and Elliott Avenues will be closed between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday for the next installment of Minneapolis Open Streets.

MnDOT will have the southbound lanes of Hwy. 100 through St. Louis Park and Edina shut down.

Here is your guide to this weekend’s road construction:

1. I-494 in Plymouth: Traffic between Fish Lake Road in Maple Grove and Hwy. 55 in Plymouth is to two lanes each direction until Nov. 4.

2, Hwy 100 through St. Louis Park and Edina: At 10 p.m. Friday, southbound lanes between I-394 and Crosstown will shut down from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday. Follow the detours to Hwy 169 or I-35W to bypass the closure. Nouthbound reduced to two lanes between Crosstown and W. 36th Street.

3. I-694 and Hwy. 252 in Brooklyn Center: Lane and ramp closures on Saturday until 5 p.m.

4. I-35W in Arden Hills: Lane restrictions near bridge projects at County Roads E2 and H.

5. I-694 in Shoreview: Westbound traffic has two lanes separated by a concrete barrier between I-35E and Lexington Avenue.

6. I-35E in the northeast metro: Intermittent lane closures between County roads 96 and J. County 96 is single lane from Centerville Road to White Bear Parkway and closed at Manning Avenue.

7. Hwys. 61 and 97 in Forest Lake: No access to eastbound Hwy. 97 from Hwy. 61. Single lane in both directions of Hwy 61 between the north intersection of Hwy 97/Scandia Trail and 202nd Street.

8. Hwy. 8 in Franconia: Closed between the south junction of Hwy. 95 and downtown Taylors Falls.

9. I-94 from St. Paul to Maplewood: The left westbound lane between Mounds Blvd and Century Ave. is permanently closed through early August. The left eastbound lane is closed from 4 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays until Aug. 19.

10. I-94 in the Midway: Both directions closed between Lexington Parkway and I-35E and single lane between Lexington Avenue and Hwy. 280 from 8 p.m. Friday until 5 p.m. Sunday.

11. I-35E in St. Paul: Intermittent lane closures in near St. Clair Avenue and between I-94 and Maryland Avenue.

12. Hwy. 36 at Lexington Avenue in Roseville: Traffic shifted to a bypass on the south side of Hwy. 36. Ramps at Lexington Avenue are closed.

13. Hwy. 280 in Lauderdale: Single lane in each direction between Broadway St. and Como Avenue.

14. I-35W in Minneapolis: The following bridges over I-35W have lane closures: Westbound Hennepin Avenue, eastbound Broadway Street and northbound Johnson Street.

15. Hwy. 5 in St. Paul: Single lane in both directions over the Mississippi River near Fort Snelling for bridge repair.

16. Hwy. 13 in Lilydale: Closed between Wachtler Avenue and Sylvandale Road until Sept. 2.

17. Hwy. 3 in Farmington: Closed between County Road 46 and Claremont Drive and at Chesterfield Way Friday through 5 a.m. Monday. Southbound closed between Willow and Ash streets.

18. Hwy. 61 in Denmark Township: Occasional lane closures in both directions from just north of Hwy 10 to just south of 127th Street.

Gillette employees get a hands-on introduction to bus riding

Jill Smith took her first ride on a Metro Transit bus Wednesday  Photo by Tim Harlow

Try the riding the bus, you just might like it.

That's the thought behind an initiative Wednesday at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, which partnered with Metro Transit to shuttle nearly 200 employees from its off-site office across the Mississippi River from downtown to the hospital's main campus for the annual employee picnic.

A $5 refillable Go-To card to cover the round-trip fare plus free food and Dilly Bars was a deal most employees could not pass up. But the hope is that many will become regular bus riders to ease a parking crunch at 10 River Park Plaza and at Gillette’s main campus attached to Regions Hospital.

Jill Smith, of Burnsville, who works in the communications and advertising department, had never ridden a city bus until she hopped on a Route 68 at 10:58 a.m.  A little nervous at first, she swipped her card, then asked the typical questions first-time riders do.

"Do we have to tell them where we want to get off? (She learned how to pull the cord to signal for a stop.) If you get off at the wrong stop, do you just get right back on?"

By the time she arrived at the company picnic 7 minutes later, she was ready to give public transportation a go.

"I like it. It's very calm and less stressful. Driving down Robert Street is very white knuckley," Smith said. "I'm going to take the bus tomorrow."

About 25 percent of Gillette's workforce housed at the blue-tinted office on River Park Plaza where the hospital moved its communication, advertising, employee education and development, information systems and the Gillette Foundation last year, currently use transit to get to work. By taking employees to the picnic on the bus, Dennis Jolley, a Gillette vice president who oversees the departments, hopes the outing will create a "mind shift" showing employees that the car does not have to be king.

Employees described their experience as "cool," "convenient" and something "they'd consider using more."

For Libby Utter, who works in the Gillette Foundation and makes many trips between the two campuses for meetings, the bus ride was an eye-opener. Next time, she said, she might just leave the car in park.

"You don't think about it. You just drive," she said as she got off a Route 68, one of three routes that stop at or near the River Park Plaza campus. "I'll try the bus."