A snowy forecast has forced the Minnesota Department of Transportation to push back construction on Hwy. 169 for a major bridge replacement project until Jan. 17.

Road closures were due to begin Tuesday on the Nine Mile Creek bridge between Bren Road and 7th Street/Lincoln Drive on the Minnetonka-Edina border, but officials delayed the start date because of weather-related safety concerns. The nine-month project will complicate commutes in the west metro, rerouting nearly 90,000 motorists who cross the bridge each day.

Several inches of snow is expected to fall around the Twin Cities metro from Monday to Wednesday, which would create a hazard for construction crews. Weather permitting, work will officially begin at 3 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, with barriers set up the night before.

Through October 2017, the ramp from westbound Interstate 394 to southbound Hwy. 169 will remain closed. And to throw another monkey wrench into the mix, southbound Hwy. 169 will be reduced to a single lane between Betty Crocker Drive to just south of the I-394 interchange. The idea is to limit the number of southbound motorists using the portion of Hwy. 169 between I-394 and 5th Street/Lincoln Drive and steer them onto I-394 and I-494, said MnDOT's David Aeikens.

"We want to keep people who don't live, work or have business out of the area," he said. "I would not use Hwy. 169 if I didn't have to. It's going to be challenging."

Officially, the detour for northbound drivers is to follow the Crosstown east to Hwy. 100, then north to I-394 and back west to Hwy. 169. Southbound drivers are being sent west on I-394 then south on I-494.

Naturally those routes are going to see increased traffic volumes, but so are Hwy. 7, Hopkins Crossroad, Excelsior Boulevard, Minnetonka Boulevard and Cedar Lake Road as drivers seek shortcuts.

The end result will be a raised bridge looking like a causeway over the low marshy area, longer acceleration and deceleration lanes at Cedar Lake Road and smoother pavement.

To sign up for e-mail updates, visit the project website at: dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy169hopkins.

Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648