It was just over a month ago that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) asked drivers to lay off the gas pedal and obey the 60 miles-per-hour speed limit in the 9-mile construction zone between Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis and Shingle Creek Parkway in Brooklyn Center.
Motorists didn’t comply, so the agency — at the request of the State Patrol — this week will reduce the speed limit to 50 miles per hour when traffic is shifted from the outside lanes to the inside lanes, said MnDOT spokesman David Aeikens.
In the three months since construction began in March, the patrol has responded to 275 crashes and tagged 119 motorists for speeding. While no one was killed, several close calls were reported, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol. A vehicle struck a construction truck with two workers standing nearby on May 22. Earlier in the month, a rollover crash happened near a work crew.
MnDOT has been paying the patrol $75 to $100 an hour to watch over the work zone at various times of the day and tag lead foots. And there have been plenty — enough that the patrol went to MnDOT to request the change, Aeikens said.
“The 100 deadliest days on Minnesota roads are during the summer months,” Nielson said. “Speeding through construction zones can put workers’ lives at risk.”
Starting at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, westbound traffic between Hwy. 55 and I-694 will be switched over to the two lanes nearest the center concrete median. Once the traffic switch is complete and signs are posted, the speed limit will drop to 50 miles per hour.
The speed limit for eastbound motorists will remain at 60 miles per hour until Friday morning when it will also drop.
The State Patrol will continue the extra enforcement along I-94 from now through October, when the construction is expected to be completed.
Fines in construction zones start at $300 plus court fees.