To the relief of commuters who use I-394 in the west metro, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has finished joint repairs that had the eastbound lanes between Hwy. 100 and downtown Minneapolis closed for the past two weeks and the westbound lanes shut down for two weeks in July.
Traffic clipped along Monday morning as both the general lanes and the HOT lanes were open for commuters. But it was not exactly smooth sailing.
Drivers probably noticed that the surface was still a bit bumpy. MnDOT has not finished grinding down the concrete, a task the agency will undertake for the next few weeks.
While all lanes in both directions of I-394 will be open during peak hours, motorists can expect lane closures overnight as the grinding process beings this week. At times, the freeway will be reduced to a single lane, meaning the potential for traffic tie-ups even late at night will be in play, said Bobbie Dahlke, a MnDOT spokeswoman.
Crews will be working nearly every night, she said. Additionally, the HOT lanes will be closed after Friday's rush hour until early Monday morning both this weekend and next.
Motorists should "beware" when traveling in the area, especially the weekend of Aug. 28-30 when the Twins have home games and the State Fair will be in session.
For now, commuters are just ecstatic to have their driving lanes back and the ramp from northbound Hwy. 100 to eastbound I-394 back open.
The closure of that ramp drew motorists' ire as extensive backups developed on Hwy. 100. That coupled with a confusing detour and signs to them had many drivers fed up.
"We closed Barry Street and then the I-394 ramp, so we had two detours in place," Dahlke said. For motorists wanting to go eastbound on 394, "one was to follow the loops at 394 and the other was to Hwy. 55. People didn't know what signs to follow. When they got to Hwy. 55, they found long lines."
That in turn, generated calls and emails to MnDOT, Dahlke said.
West metro motorists will still have to contend with road work on Hwy. 100, which will last through the summer and into next year's construction season. Additionally, the ramp from southbound Hwy. 100 to westbound Hwy. 7 closed Monday morning. The detour takes drivers west on I-394 to southbound 169 and down to Hwy. 7.
The ramp will not reopen until fall of 2016.