The Minnesota Department of Transportation will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony next Thursday to celebrate the completion of the Hwy. 169 and Interstate 494 interchange in Eden Prairie, and that should bring smiles to the faces of thousands of motorists who have endured lane and ramp closures over the past few years.
That joy and relief is in stark contrast to the moods and feelings drivers expressed during Wednesday morning's rush hour, when overnight road work went longer than expected and created a massive traffic jam on northbound Hwy. 169.
The highway was reduced to a single lane from Anderson Lakes Parkway to I-494 until about 8:15 a.m., and that had motorists fuming. Many experienced 30- to 40-minute delays on a trip that normally takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Crews were to have picked up the cones and barrels by 6 a.m., but they didn't clear the lanes until about two hours later. It was not immediately clear why, a MnDOT spokesperson said.
Some lanes also were closed midday Wednesday to allow crews to finish striping and rerouting traffic to the permanent configuration it will follow when everything is wrapped up by next week.
Wednesday's lane closures were likely the last in the area for a while, and they came as several lanes and ramps were set to reopen overnight Wednesday. Those include:
• W. 78th Street between Hwy. 169 and Washington Avenue.
• W. 78th Street ramp to westbound I-494.
• Roundabout on W. 78th Street and the ramps from southbound Hwy. 169 to W. 78th Street.
• W. 78th Street north of I-494 will open beneath Hwy. 169; motorists will able to use the frontage road connecting Prairie Center Drive and West Bush Lake Road.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768 Twitter: @timstrib