The Minnesota Department of Transportation is still working to complete the metro area's newest MnPASS lane on I-35E in St. Paul and Maplewood, but the agency is already looking to extend it into the northeastern suburbs.

On Tuesday, MnDOT officials will hold an open house to outline plans to extend the MnPASS lane from Little Canada Road up to County Road J through Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake and Lino Lakes. The meeting will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Vadnais Heights City Hall, 800 County Road E.

At the meeting, MnDOT representatives will take questions from the public and show project designs and the environmental assessment results. They also will take comments from the public.

The Federal Highway Administration awarded MnDOT a Value Pricing Pilot Program grant to study the feasibility of extending MnPASS Express Lanes on I-35E between Little Canada Road and County Road J.  The I-35E MnPASS Extension Study developed and evaluated alternatives for extending MnPASS on I-35E from Little Canada Road through the bottleneck at I-35E/I-694, to County Road 96.

Over the past two years, MnDOT has been rebuilding I-35E between the Cayuga Bridge and Little Canada Road, adding a MnPASS lane in both directions. It's the first HOT lane in the east metro.

MnPASS lanes - also known at High Occupancy Toll lanes - can be used by vehicles carrying two or more people during peak periods. The lanes also can be used by buses, motorcycles and solo drivers who pay a fee to use them. The fee is determined by the level of congestion.

MnDOT says the lanes help maintain traffic flow, reduce congestion and give drivers a safe, reliable commute when they pay an electronic fee.  Similar lanes are in operation on I-394 in the west metro and on I-35W from downtown Minneapolis to Burnsville.


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