By the time Friday's Vikings-Houston Texans game wrapped up at the Metrodome, westbound I-94 from downtown out to Hwy. 252 in Brooklyn Center was closed for weekend maintenance. So was westbound 694 at Hwy. 100.
That led to a bigger jam up on westbound 394 than usual after large-scale events let out, and that had some readers asking why that closure could not have waited until for a few more hours.
MnDOT closed the freeway at 10 p.m. Friday, meaning fans and other drivers who normally use that route to get to the northern and northwestern suburbs were forced to find alternate routes home.
That would not have been the case if work had been delayed until midnight. By then Vikings traffic would have been dispersed. The Drive got a few e-mails from disgruntled motorists who got stuck in traffic and blamed MnDOT for poor planning.
Not so, said MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard. He said the agency keeps a list of major events and community festivals in town, and looks at how road work will affect traffic. But with the late beginning to the construction season and a finite amount of time to complete the work, "we can't afford to adjust schedules for everything."
Friday was a busy traffic night for sure, but fewer drivers were on the road when compared to a Monday morning rush hour. Had work on 94 and 694 been delayed until midnight, there was the chance the freeway would not have been open by the advertised time of 5 a.m. Monday. Both freeways were open for Monday's rush hour.
"Yes, the Vikings game is a traffic generator, but realize that there is as huge of volume of traffic as there is during a rush hour," Barnard said. "Would you rather have this on Friday night or Monday morning when there are thousands of commuters coming into town?"
Over the weekend, drivers encountered detours on I-94, I-694, northbound Hwy. 169 from Hwy. 55 to 94 and a complete closure of Hwy. 252 at 694.
That made it tough to get out of downtown to the northern and northwestern suburbs.