Minnesota motorists are in for a long summer of lane restrictions, road closings and detours from 280 construction projects announced Wednesday. Roadwork will bring major disruptions statewide but especially in and around the Twin Cities.
Work to replace a traffic signal with an overpass at Hwy. 169 at 93rd Avenue in Brooklyn Park begins next week, kicking off an ambitious metro construction season involving 87 projects. They include repairs on a long segment of Interstate 35 and 35E from Lakeville to Eagan and a 5-mile stretch of I-694 between I-35W and Hwy. 252 through Brooklyn Center and Fridley.
Along with those big-ticket items, MnDOT will rebuild an intersection of Hwy. 36 in Maplewood, repave I-494 through Edina, Richfield and Bloomington and replace bridges on Park and Portland Avenues S. in Minneapolis.
“There will be disruption in traffic. There will be frustration in commuter times,” said new Department of Transportation Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “But this significant investment in our state is essential for our prosperity in the future.”
Big state projects
It’s not just metro drivers who will feel the squeeze from the $1.1 billion in projects. Motorists who use I-94 between Clearwater and St. Cloud will encounter single lanes from April through July due to a resurfacing and guardrail-replacement project. In the south, crews will add roundabouts and finish paving Hwy. 60 at Worthington.
In total, 193 projects will take place outside the metro area.
“Most all of you will come across some of our projects; it’s going to be hard to get around them,” Deputy Commissioner Bernie Arseneau said at a news conference in St. Paul.
Arseneau said MnDOT will keep as many lanes open as possible and do as much work as possible on nights and weekends. In some areas, signs listing travel times through work zones will be posted. MnDOT also hopes to launch an app for its 511 road information service so motorists can get real-time information on their smartphones.
Still, with big delays almost unavoidable, MnDOT and the State Patrol put out a plea for drivers to slow down and stay alert. In the past three years, there have been 5,600 crashes in work zones, causing 22 fatalities and 2,400 injuries, said Lt. Eric Roeske, a State Patrol spokesman.
“These are your neighbors, family and friends that are working in the zones on the roads,” he said. “Use patience. Give them extra space and a little extra time.”
Patience will be a particular virtue along I-694 from Arden Hills to Brooklyn Center. Along with a new interchange at Hwy. 10 and County 96, crews will finish upgrading I-694 from Victoria Street to I-35W. While drivers have endured delays there for two years, the work spreads west this year. MnDOT will replace bridges and rehabilitate concrete between I-35W and Hwy. 252. That could snarl traffic royally since there are few good alternate routes across the Mississippi River.
South and west metro
Hwy. 169 will get a makeover from 77th Avenue down to Hwy. 55. To the south, bridge repairs will bring single-lane traffic to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge starting in July. Lanes at the smaller bridge at Nine Mile Creek will be closed in June.
On I-494, lanes will be closed and access to I-35W and Cedar Avenue will have weekend closings. Southbound I-35E will be closed from Cliff Road to the I-35W/35E split for 30 days starting in May. After that will come single-lane traffic from June through mid-July. I-35 will be single lane from roughly mid-July through November.
In the east, Hwy. 36 will be closed for up to 75 days from Hwy. 61 to White Bear Avenue.
But wait, there’s more
In addition to road construction, 57 projects will involve railroad crossings, sea walls and docks, and runways and terminals at regional airports, as well as transit centers.
For the complete list of projects and their scheduled dates, go to www.mndot.gov/construction.
To check for up-to-date road and traffic conditions, go to www.511mn.org.