Predictions of apocalyptic gridlock for morning commuters on I-394 have not come to pass on the first two days of a construction project that has all inbound traffic to downtown Minneapolis sharing general purpose lanes while outbound traffic uses the reversible carpool lanes.
Heading out of downtown during the evening rush, that's a different story.
With the westbound lanes of 394 closed for resurfacing for two weeks, all outbound traffic is being diverted to the High Occupancy Toll lanes. On Monday, traffic jammed up early in the afternoon and stayed that way until well beyond the typical end of an evening rush.
"We expect to see that again today," a city of Minneapolis spokesman said.
Traffic was at a halt on the freeway entrances at 12th Street and 1st Avenue N. and for motorists entering at Washington Avenue and 3rd and 7th Streets. That in turn led to backups felt on downtown streets as drivers had to squeeze into two available westbound lanes on 394 rather than the typical three.
MnDOT was predicting 7,000 vehicles to be using the westbound lanes on 394 during the peak of the rush. On Monday at 5 p.m., it looked like all 7,000 were there and barely inching along.
Compounding downtown traffic matters was a police situation on Portland Avenue that gummed up traffic heading south out of downtown, Traffic was diverted at Franklin Avenue for about an hour and "that contributed to the congestion," a city of Minneapolis spokesman said.
A MnDOT spokesman said the agency is watching to see how things play out and determine if any adjustments need to be made. There was no immediate word from Minneapolis Traffic Control and Enforcement as to any action it might take to alleviate congestion.
The mess Monday resulted from a resurfacing project on I-394. The westbound lanes on 394 closed Friday night and won't reopen for two weeks. Then, the eastbound lanes will close for two weeks, meaning more misery is ahead when that change goes into effect.
So, commuters, brace for big delays and hope for quick escape.