Let's start with some good news: By Thursday's evening rush hour, the entire ramp from westbound I-94 to the Hennepin/Lyndale exits is expected to be open.
But as one ramp opens, two others that handle thousands of vehicles a day will shut down on Monday and stay that way for weeks. They include the ramp from westbound I-94 to westbound I-394 and southbound Hwy. 252 to eastbound I-94.
And as a heads up, getting out of downtown Minneapolis will get even more challenging when the ramp from 3rd Street to westbound I-94 closes on Wednesday. Thankfully, this one should only last about a week,
With that warning, here are the details:
Hwy. 252: So far the pain surrounding the road work on I-94 has been tolerable, but come Monday commuting plans for those living in the northern suburbs could be thrown in to chaos. MnDOT is closing access from southbound Hwy. 252 to eastbound I-94 and diverting traffic over to Hwy. 100.
The flyover bridge carrying traffic from westbound 94 to westbound 694/94 is getting a new deck, and it will take two months to complete it, said MnDOT spokesman David Aeikens.
Motorists could use southbound Hwy. 100 to I-394, and follow eastbound I-394 into Minneapolis. That's the recommended detour, so plan accordingly. Note that the ramp to westbound I-694 also will be closed.
That's all heading into Minneapolis. Going back to the northern suburbs won't be an issue, other than the usual traffic. The ramp from west 94 to north Hwy. 252 will remain open.
I-394/94: For those who divert to or already use I-394, pay attention. The MnPASS lanes will be out of service for six weeks. The reversible portion of the MnPASS lane will be used as general purpose lanes.
Here is why: MnDOT will be fixing the bridges and ramp leading from westbound I-94 to westbound I-394. With that ramp closed, all traffic exiting from I-94 will be funneled into the HOT lane. This begins Monday and runs through June 12. Also closing is the ramp from eastbound I-94 to westbound I-394
MnPASS holders will not be charged to use the lanes during the six-week period, but pay lanes resume west of Hwy. 100 as usual.
Traffic heading out of downtown Minneapolis will have the option of using the MnPASS or general purpose lanes.
The real impact, however, will be felt by eastbound drivers. With westbound drivers using the MnPASS lanes, all inbound traffic - that's buses, cars, motorcycles and trucks - be forced onto the general purpose lanes, and we all know how crowded they get. And if the detour traffic from Hwy. 252 joins in, well, it might become a real crawl.
At that thought, Hwy. 55 is looking pretty good.
So why not just close the I-94 ramp to I-394 and leave the MnPASS lanes alone?
"While this is a temporary inconvenience for motorists, it is the best option for repairing and improving a bridge while keeping traffic moving through a busy interchange," Aeikens said in a statement. "Crews cannot have vehicles on the ramps while working on the bridges. Putting all westbound I-94 to westbound I-394 traffic onto the reversible lanes proved to be the best option for keeping traffic moving."
Let's just hope that doesn't bring eastbound traffic to a standstill.