Impatient motorists caught in a backup on southbound I-35 in Lakeville during Wednesday's evening rush escaped the gridlock by making a U-turn and heading up a freeway ramp on the opposite side of the freeway.
The plan motorists had was to turn around near County Road 60, then catch the northbound ramp. Once off the freeway, drivers could sail along by using a frontage road that runs parallel to the freeway and bypass the traffic jam that formed due the single lane work zone between County 70 and County 2.
No so fast, the State Patrol said. The turnabouts through the center median are only to be used by law enforcement and highway maintenance vehicles. The patrol caught a few of the offending drivers and delivered a stern message to not make illegal U-turns on freeways and gave them a ticket, too.
"It's been an ongoing problem," said Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol. "The main problem is that it is illegal and that people are making a u-turn onto a 70-mile-per-hour freeway. That is incredibly dangerous for them and others on the roadway."
MnDOT contractors have installed extra barricades to dissuade motorists from cutting across the median, said MnDOT spokeswoman Kirsten Klein.
Wednesday was not the first time the patrol has been called to deal with the problem in the area, Roeske said. The patrol is working with MnDOT to come up with other strategies to curtail the problem, before there is a crash or worse.