Traffic flow - already difficult on I-694 in the northern suburbs of Little Canada and Arden Hills - will become a tad more tricky this spring when a new construction project to add a third lane between Rice Street and Lexington Avenue gets underway.
MnDOT recently released three animated videos to show the scope of the $42 million project, and to prepare motorists for new lane configurations that will feature temporary lanes, with one set providing access to on and off ramps and another set specifically for through traffic. The layout will be in place this spring until the fall of 2017.
“People are busy, so we’re respecting their time by providing helpful information in a way we hope engages their attention for a couple of minutes,” said MnDOT Metro District Engineer Scott McBride.
The videos made at a cost of $15,000 augment a digital billboard in Shoreview telling motorists that construction is coming and traditional communication such as email, text messages and a MnDOT website that outlines the details of the project.
MnDOT will keep two lanes of the freeway open in each direction during construction. One video tells motorists "delays are easier to deal with when you can anticipate them and avoid them." It suggests motorists choose a different route or understand that they may need more time to pass through the area
A second explains how motorists will be forced to choose the right lane if they plan to exit between Lexington and Rice or the left lane if they don't. Motorists in the left lane will not be able to access on and off ramps in the construction zone.
The bottom line is that motorists need to "Be Ready" and "Know Their Route."
Here is a summary of what MnDOT plans to do over the next two construction seasons.
- Add a third general purpose lane in each direction between Rice Street and Lexington Avenue.
- Reconstruct I-694 between Rice Street and Lexington Avenue.
- Rebuild interstate ramps at Lexington Avenue, Victoria Street and Rice Street.
- Open the right lane of the bridge from northbound I-35E to westbound I-694. The right lane will become an exit-only lane to Rice Street.
- Improve storm water drainage throughout the corridor.