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Weekend traffic: I-94 and 394 closures plus half marathons to bring traffic challenges

Thousands of motorists traveling in the metro area will have to find alternate routes this weekend as the Minnesota Department of Transportation shuts down portions of two freeways starting Friday night.

Meanwhile drivers will have to weave their way around half marathons in downtown St. Paul and Richfield, another race at Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis and the crush of traffic expected in downtown Minneapolis where the first-place Lynx are in action Friday night at Target Center and the Twins play Seattle in games Friday through Sunday at Target Field.

Fans leaving the sporting events or the Minnesota Fringe Festival shows and heading east will find barricades up on eastbound I-94 between Hwy. 280 and I-35E starting at 10 p.m. Friday. Motorists will be detoured north on Hwy. 280 to I-35W, then east on 694 to south I-35E. Ramps from Hwy. 36 to both northbound and southbound I-35E are closed, so that’s not an alternate route to shave miles off the posted detour.

With the ramp from southbound I-35E to southbound Hwy. 52 closed, motorists trying to get to the southeastern suburbs will have to Hwy. 61. Access to southbound Hwy. 52 from downtown St. Paul is available from E. 7th Street, but it’s single lane from 7th Street south to Plato Blvd.

Motorists heading west on I-94 could run slowdowns, too. The left lane between Lexington Avenue and Cretin Avenue will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday until 5 a.m. Monday to allow crews to pour the south side of the new Snelling Avenue bridge deck.

Tuesday’s flash flooding that snarled morning rush hour traffic on eastbound I-394 may have been a preview of what’s to come when the lanes between Hwy. 100 and I-94 shut down for two weeks at 10 p.m. Friday.

When water overtook the freeway at Penn Avenue, traffic stacked up as far back as Ridgedale Center in Minnetonka and that could happen when commuters head to work Monday morning, MnDOT warns. All eastbound traffic will share the carpool lanes, meaning 7,000 vehicles — buses, cars, motorcycles trucks — will be on the two available lanes. With no option to use the HOT lane, westbound drivers will feel the pinch, too, both over the weekend and next week, said MnDOT spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke.

The Lyndale Avenue bridge over Dunwoody Blvd./Hennepin Avenue is closed through September.

Drivers passing through Richfield could find delays Saturday morning due to the Urban Wildland 5K and Half Marathon benefiting the Wood Lake Nature Center. The race snakes through the city and crosses major thoroughfares such as 66th Street, Bloomington Avenue, Portland Avenue and Lyndale Avenue. All roads will remain open for motorists, but police will be directing traffic to keep runners safe.


Shepard Road in St. Paul will be closed Saturday morning from Alton to Warner Road for the Minnesota Half Marathon. 

Lake Street will be closed for Minneapolis Open Streets between Elliot Ave and 42nd Avenue from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Here are other places drivers will find road work and traffic challenges:

Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park and Edina

The highway is reduced to two lanes in each direction between Cedar Lake Road and Excelsior Blvd.  Reminder that these ramps between Cedar Lake Road and Excelsior Blvd. remained closed:

  • Hwy 7 loop to southbound Hwy 100
  • Hwy 7 to northbound Hwy 100 closed through fall 2016. Detour to northbound Hwy 100: Excelsior Boulevard.
  • Minnetonka Boulevard to southbound Hwy 100
  • Minnetonka Boulevard to northbound Hwy 100
  • Northbound Hwy 100 to Minnetonka Boulevard closed.
  • 27th Street to southbound Hwy 100
  • Southbound Hwy 100 ramp to Minnetonka Boulevard

Also, the northbound Hwy. 100 to Barry Street is closed for about a month.

To the south, both directions of Hwy. 100 are two lanes (usually three) between the Crosstown and W. 77th Street.  The ramps from northbound Hwy. 100 to 77th Street and from 77th Street to northbound Hwy. 100 are closed through Saturday.

Snelling Avenue in St. Paul

Snelling Avenue over I-94 is closed until late August. Traffic is being routed over to Lexington Avenue or along the official detour on Marshall and University Avenues, Vandalia Street and Cretin Avenue.

These ramps are closed:

  • Westbound I-94 ramp to Hwy 51/Snelling Avenue closed through late July. Use Lexington Avenue exit.
  • St. Anthony Avenue ramp to westbound I-94
  • Northbound Snelling to eastbound Pierce Butler Route.
  • St. Anthony Avenue ramp to westbound I-94.

I-35E in St. Paul

This week, the ramp from northbound 35E to Roselawn Avenue closed as did Roselawn under the freeway. This will be in place until mid-August. The ramp at Larpenteur Avenue is open. The detour for Roselawn drivers is to follow Edgerton Street, County Road B and Rice Street.

Overnight Thursday to Friday, the new northbound bridge over Cayuga Street opened, so be aware of that traffic switch.

A number of ramps are closed and be prepared for changing lane configurations as you pass through the area.

  • Ramps from southbound 35E to eastbound Hwy. 36 until late August
  • Ramps from both directions of Hwy. 36 to southbound I-35E until late August
  • Ramps from Maryland and Roselawn Avenues to northbound I-35E until late August
  • Southbound I-35E to Maryland Avenue until late August
  • Little Canada Road to southbound I-35E until late August
  • Southbound I-35E to University Avenue. A temporary ramp from southbound I-35E to 12th Street is open for access to the Regions Hospital Area. The ramp from southbound I-35E to Pennsylvania Avenue remains open.
  • University Avenue to westbound 94 is closed
  • Both directions of Phalen Boulevard/Pennsylvania Avenue between approximately L’Orient Street and just east of Mississippi Street are reduced to a single lane
  • University Avenue to westbound I-94 is closed.
  • Northbound ramps to/from Phalen Boulevard are permanently closed.

Southbound I-35E between County Road E and Hwy. 96 will be reduced to one lane from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Monday.  In the same location, northbound I-35E will be reduced to one lane from 8 p.m. to noon daily through Monday.

Hwy. 13 in Mendota

Both directions of the highways are closed between 2nd Street and Lexington Avenue in Mendota at Lilydale. This will be in place until Aug. 22.  Detour is via I-35E and Hwy. 110.

Hwy. 10 in Ramsey

Hwy. 10 near Armstrong Boulevard may have congestion related delays through October while Armstrong Boulevard is closed north of Hwy 10. A link to detours for drivers needing alternate routes can be found here.

Kellogg Boulevard in downtown St. Paul

Kellogg is closed between Market Street and Wabasha Street until November. Additionally, the southbound lanes on the Wabasha Bridge, and the northbound lanes of the Exchange Street viaduct will be shut down for the duration of the project.

During the closure, motorists will be directed to use 7th Street and Robert Street.

County Road 101 in Minnetonka and Wayzata

Bushaway Road (County Road 101) is closed to through traffic between Hwy. 12 and Minnetonka Blvd. All non-local traffic should follow the marked detour using Minnetonka Boulevard, I-494 and Hwy. 12.  In a new development: MnDOT will close the eastbound Hwy. 12 ramp from County Road 101 at 3 p.m. Sunday. This closure will be in place until mid-August, weather permitting.

I-94 in St. Michael

Repaving continues on I-94 between Rogers and St. Michael. Motorists can expect lane closures eastbound between  Hwy. 241 and Hwy. 101 after 7 p.m, and westbound after 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There also is a lane shift at the Crow River.

Hwy. 5 in Carver County

West metro drivers on Hwy. 5 have two closures: in Waconia between County Road 10 and Oak Avenue until Aug. 1, and in Victoria between E. Scandia Road and County Road 11 until Sept. 3.

Hwy. 169 in Jordan

Hwy. 169 between Hwy. 21 and Hwy. 282 is reduced to a single lane and a speed limit of 45 miles per hour through late October.

Franklin Avenue bridge

Motor vehicle traffic will be reduced to a single lane in each direction across the Mississippi River.

West River Parkway has been closed north of the Franklin Avenue Bridge since June 2014 due to mudslide repair work that will be completed by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. These traffic changes are still in place:

•    North on West River Parkway to east on Franklin Avenue: Ramp open.
•    North on West River Parkway to west on Franklin Avenue: Follow E. 25th Street to S. 31st Avenue. Then take a left on Franklin Avenue.
•    East on Franklin Avenue to south on W. River Parkway: Ramp open.
•    West on Franklin Avenue to south on W. River Parkway: Follow S. 31st Avenue to E. 25th Street and take a right on W. River Parkway.

And in a note to those in bicycles or on foot: Alternating bike/pedestrian lane closures on bridge deck continue – please follow signs daily. Westbound lanes closed Thursday for several days. All bikes/pedestrians should use the eastbound bike/pedestrian lanes on south side of the bridge.

Minnehaha Avenue in south Minneapolis

The Minnehaha Avenue and 42nd Street intersection will be closed on Monday Aug. 3 for utility reconstruction. A posted detour will direct through traffic on 42nd Street to Hiawatha Avenue, 38th Street and 42nd Avenue to bypass the closure. The closure is expected to remain in place until the week of August 17.

Also in the area: The final layer of asphalt paving on Minnehaha Avenue between 46th Street and 42nd Street is scheduled for the week of August 10, according to Hennepin County. When the paving begins, officials plan to close the road for two to three days.

Ongoing traffic restrictions

46th Street is reduced to two lanes, with traffic shifted to the outside lanes between Snelling Avenue and 41st Avenue South. Lane restrictions will remain in place for several weeks for ongoing reconstruction work.

Minnehaha Avenue is closed to through traffic between 42nd Street and 38th Street until November for reconstruction. Posted detours for through traffic use Hiawatha Avenue to bypass the construction zone (bicyclists are detoured to Snelling Avenue).

Minneapolis parkways

Dean Parkway is closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday to allow for window cleaning of a high-rise. Traffic will be detoured.

Nokomis Parkway will be closed for the Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

New texting law raises fines for motorists with 2 or more offenses

Texting is a chronic problem on Minnesota roads. It's also illegal.

A new law that goes into effect Saturday will raise the fine for drivers who are caught texting for second time and subsequent offenses. First time violators will still be fined $50, but after that they will be slapped with a $275 fine which could rise to well over $300 by the time court costs are tacked on.

The law was passed during the 2015 legislative session with bipartisan support with its goal to curb the dangerous practice.

"We want to send a strong message to drivers in Minnesota that it is completely unacceptable to text and drive," said Rep. Frank Hornstein, (DFL-Minneapolis) who authored the bill with Senator Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan). "These laws do make a difference and do save lives."

In Minnesota, it is illegal for drivers to read, compose or send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign. It is also illegal for drivers with a permit or provisional driver’s license to use a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies to call 911.

Since the law banning texting went into effect in 2010, the number citations has risen steadily. Last year 3,200 motorists were ticketed for using their electronic devices while behind the wheel. That is up from 2,189 in 2013 and 847 in 2010, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.   It was not immediately known how many of those were repeat offenders as the courts did not previously track that. Under the new law, that will occur, said Dave Boxum, a department spokesman.

In 2014, distracted driving was responsible for 61 deaths. Over the past five years, distracted driving accounted for 19 percent of all traffic deaths.

Matthew Riggs lost his younger brother, David, 20, who was hit by a texting driver in August 2013. On Thursday, he spoke in favor of the law at press conference, and encouraged all drivers to put down their phones.

"He will never get to meet his niece or be an uncle, and that's not fair," Matthew Riggs said. "He still had a lot of life to live and lives to touch. Losing my brother to this crash has made me aware of my own driving habits. This new law is a first step in generating awareness about distracted driving."