Warmer weather has arrived just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial beginning of the summer travel season. AAA predicts that 36.1 million Americans will take a trip between Thursday and Monday, with a vast majority of those driving.
A gallon of gas won't bust the wallet as prices should stay steady throughout the weekend, AAA says. Today's national average is $3.65. It's even lower in Minnesota at $3.48 and at $3.47 here in the metro.
The best news for those escaping to Wisconsin is that the DOT in the Badger State is suspending most major highway projects for the holiday weekend. That includes on I-94 between Menomonie and Black River Falls, always a heavily traveled route. Minnesotans crossing the Mississippi River using I-90 will find lanes open on the Wisconsin side near LaCrosse.
MnDOT, however, still has a couple projects in place that could affect drivers, especially on I-94 to the northwest (See below). Don't forget to check 511mn.org for up to date road construction and closure information.
To beat the rush, the best advice is to leave town on Thursday night and come back Sunday. The peak travel periods on state roads are expected to be between noon and 8 p.m. Friday and Monday.
Here are some noteworthy road projects that could impact travel:
Hwy 169: The reconstruction of the Crosstown overpass has the southbound lanes closed at Hwy. 62. The detour takes motorists west on Hwy. 212 to 494, then back to 169. Northbound lanes are unaffected.
I-694: Both directions of the freeway between I-35W and Shingle Creek Pkwy. have nightly lane and ramp closures from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. through early June.
I-35: Motorists can expect lane closures between County Road 50 and County 70 in both directions through Lakeville and Elko. MnDOT says lane closures should be temporary, but any time there is less capacity backups are likely to develop.
I-94: Motorists can expect intermittent lane closures associated with a repaving project between Wright County Road 8 and County 75 on either side of Monticello. Night time construction work will be in progress.
Two projects in Otter Tail County will reduce the freeway to a single lane in each direction. That includes County Road 35 to Minnesota Hwy. 79 just west of the Evansville area. A bridge project will have traffic sharing one side of the freeway from milepost/exit 50 to County Road 67.
I-35: Look for lane closures between County 3 and Hwy. 33 in the Cloquet area in conjunction with a bridge project. But better news is that the lane closures between Hwy. 70 and Hwy. 210 should be lifted by noon Friday and work put on hold for the weekend. Nevertheless, be on alert for cones and equipment on the side of the road as you pass through the area.
Hwy. 52: Between Northfield Boulevard (near Hampton) and 190th Street, the roadway is reduced to one lane due to road construction work. This created quite a backup last Sunday evening, so prepare for a wait if your travels take you in this direction. We've also got lane restrictions on the north side of Rochester, but those should not be problematic.
Minnesota Valley Transit Authority said it will operate a "Weekend Schedule" on Monday. Routes 440, 444, 445 and METRO Red Line will be in service.
Also beginning Friday, Routes 460, 465, 477 and 480 will operate on a reduced weekday schedule until Aug. 15. All other MVTA routes will continue to operate regular weekday schedules on Fridays. Here is a link to the revised Friday schedules.
Metro Transit buses and trains will operate on a regular schedule Friday, weekend schedules on Saturday and the Sunday/holiday schedule both Sunday and Monday.
Regular Northstar service doesn’t operate on Memorial Day, but an added southbound trip will operate for the Twins-Texas Rangers game Monday. The train will leave Big Lake Station at 11:53 a.m. An extra northbound train will leave Target Field Station 30 minutes after the last out.