The Minnesota Department of Transportation will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony next Thursday to celebrate the completion of the 169-494 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’s morning 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 a 30- to 40-minute delay on a trip that normally takes 10 to 15 minutes as traffic backed up to the Bloomington Ferry Bridge and beyond.
"I have a fantastic idea," one motorist snarkily wrote on Twitter. "Let’s close down 169 to one lane on the busiest travel day of the year."
In a pointed remark to MnDOT, another said "You’re going to shut down 169 to one lane on a Wednesday? Idiots."
Crews were to have picked up the cones and barrels by 6 a.m., but didn’t clear the lanes until about two hours later. It was not immediately clear why the work went long, a MnDOT spokesperson said.
Some lanes also were closed during the 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 came as several lanes and ramps were set to reopen overnight Wednesday to early Thursday. Those include:
• W. 78th St. between Hwy. 169 and Washington Av.
• W. 78th St. ramp to westbound 494.
• Roundabout on W. 78th St. and the ramps from southbound Hwy. 169 to W. 78th St.
• W. 78th St. north of 494 will open beneath Hwy. 169; motorists will able to use the frontage road connecting Prairie Center Drive and West Bush Lake Road.
The $125 million reconstruction project will officially come to an end with project staff speaking at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29 at the offices Hellmuth & Johnson, 8050 W. 78th St., Edina.
Follow news about traffic and transportation issues in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area at the Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @stribdrive