This won't come as a big surprise, but after Tuesday's dumping of snow the Minnesota Department of Transportation has pushed back the start of a construction project that will bring long-term lane closures on I-35 near Forest Lake.

Instead of starting Wednesday, MnDOT will now begin the project that will impact drivers using I-35 between Hwy. 97 in Columbus and Hwy. 8 in Forest Lake on April 9.

For the first few weeks, drivers will encounter lane shifts and closures as MnDOT prepares for a major resurfacing project that will bring big backups and hassles for four months. Yep, you read that right.

But first things first.  There will be no lane closures on southbound I-35 between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m., and on northbound I-35 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. from April 9 to 16.

Then, the real impact will hit. At 7 a.m. April 16, northbound I-35 will be restricted to two lanes for most of the summer. Southbound I-35 will continue to have three lanes available. All ramps in the area will remain open; however, the ramp to Hwy. 8  will close in May for approximately two weeks.

Once the northbound side is complete, crews will switch over to the southbound lanes.

The bottom line: Traffic delays and backups are expected throughout the course of the two-year project. Motorists are advised to plan ahead and allow extra time to reach their destinations.

The work is part of the I-35 North Metro Split project, which includes resurfacing the existing pavement from the I-35W/I-35E split to Highway 8; replacing the Highway 97 bridge with a diverging diamond interchange;  replacing the northbound I-35W bridge over I-35E and the westbound Highway 8 bridge over I-35. The project will provide a better ride quality, as well as improve safety and traffic flow at the Highway 97 interchange. Additional information is available at www.mndot.gov/metro/projects/i35northmetrosplit

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