Last weekend, the Minnesota Department of Transportation shut down westbound Interstate 94 between I-35W and Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis to make concrete repairs.

The agency did the same thing two weekends ago when it shut down southbound I-35W between I-94 and 46th Street in south Minneapolis. This weekend, weather permitting, drivers on northbound I-35W will be placed on detour from Friday night to Monday morning as crews work between 46th Street and I-94.

Most of that concrete was laid over the past two construction seasons as part of MnDOT's massive "Downtown to Crosstown" rebuild of I-35W, which included a new flyover bridge carrying northbound I-35W traffic to westbound I-94, new ramps and bridges, a transit station at Lake Street for the new Orange bus rapid transit line, and the new driving surface.

The three closures puzzled some Drive readers who wanted to know how concrete just two years old could already need repairs.

"The concrete did not fail by any means," said MnDOT spokeswoman Kirsten Klein. Crews put down and removed many sets of lane lines as traffic was switched from one side of the freeway to the other during construction. Concrete barriers also were shifted around.

All that movement nicked and chipped portions of the pavement and the damage needed to be fixed, she said.

"It was not unexpected," Klein said. The $239 million project wrapped up last fall, but "we knew they [the contractors] would have to come back this spring and get things cleaned up so we could have the best product out there."

Neither MnDOT nor taxpayers will have to pay for the repairs, which are covered under warranty. The work will be carried out by Ames Construction of Burnsville, along with Lunda Construction Co. and Shafer Contracting Co. who shared the original contract.

These types of repairs are not uncommon, Klein said. But they don't always require that long sections of roads be shut down for a weekend.

Mendota Bridge work

MnDOT this spring is repairing or replacing a number of bridges along Hwy. 55 through Inver Grove Heights, Eagan and Mendota Heights.

One of them is the Mendota Bridge, the 4,100-foot span over the Minnesota River linking Mendota Heights and the Fort Snelling area. For years, a thin layer of asphalt and aggregate MnDOT put down to make the driving surface less slippery and prevent water from seeping below the concrete has been peeling away bit by bit.

As part of the work, crews will remove the rest of the crumbling material and replace it with a new seal coating

"We will get it all cleaned up and it will be much better," Klein said.

In the meantime, Hwy. 55 remains closed in both directions between Mendota Heights Road and Argenta Trail for repaving. Additionally, westbound Hwy. 55 is closed between Hwy. 13 and Hwy. 5 near Ft. Snelling as is the bike and pedestrian trail on the east side of the bridge through mid-June.