Photo: City of Edina
By most accounts, traffic flowed reasonably well in the southwest metro on Monday morning, the first day of the dreaded Nine Mile Creek bridge closure that will impact more than 90,000 drivers daily.
No major traffic snarls developed on I-494, I-394 or Hwy. 100, the alternate routes MnDOT is directing motorists to use to get around the closure of the bridge on Hwy. 169 between Bren Road and Lincoln Drive on the Minnetonka-Edina border.
We still have the afternoon drive home to see how the bridge closure will affect how traffic disburses. And there is one additional wrinkle that might catch some motorists off guard. The ramp from westbound I-394 to southbound Hwy. 169 also closed Monday. So drivers who need to get to places such as Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and south of the Minnesota River will need to exit at Hwy. 100 or go all the way out to I-494.
MnDOT's David Aeikens also notes that folks can also go north on Hwy. 169 to Hwy. 55, then turn around and go back south on Hwy. 169 if absolutely necessary to access exits at Cedar Lake Road, Minnetonka Boulevard, Hwy. 7 and Excelsior Boulevard.
For day one, however, "it all looked good on the freeway system," said MnDOT's Brian Kary. "We have not heard too much from motorists."
He said people likely gave themselves extra time, which may have helped things out.
A spokeswoman for the city of St. Louis Park said traffic moved normally along city and county streets Monday morning. The Drive was checking with Edina and Minnetonka to see if any traffic issues developed on local roads in those communities.
Edina Police did send out a tweet Monday warning drivers to slow down, plan enough time and that there would be a heavy police presence in the area around the bridge closure. Sgt. Kevin Rofidal with the city's police department said there was an uptick in traffic on Malibu Drive, Parkwood Drive and Dovre Drive, but nothing too unmanageable. Police will be keeping an eye on things. They've also put out portable cameras and radar machines along a few routes.
The ingredients are there for a worse commute Tuesday and Wednesday as rain and snow mix moves in Tuesday morning, then turning to all snow Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Demolition of the Nine Mile Creek bridge got under way in the early morning darkness and will continue daily between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. It will take about a month to knock down the current bridge. It will be replaced with a causeway and will take eight months to build.
This spring, Hwy. 169 will be down to one lane in both directions between Hwy. 55 and Lincoln Drive and from Bren Road to the Crosstown as the agency rehabs 6 miles of pavement. Ramps at 7th Street, Excelsior Boulevard, Hwy. 7, Cedar Lake Road and 36th Street will be closed for two weeks at various times through the summer.