Reporting Bill Hudson
NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (WCCO) – It’s among the oldest stretches of interstate in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, and at 124,000 vehicles traveling the beltway each day, Interstate 694 is also among the area’s most heavily traveled.
Now, 50 years of being a major conduit for commuters is starting to take a toll — concrete is crumbling and bridge decks are in desperate need of repair.
“We’re going to go out and do full-depth concrete repair, and we’re going to be resurfacing the interstate,” MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard said.
Reconstruction work will begin in early June, and last through October.
When work commences, travel along the 5.5-mile stretch of interstate stretching from Highway 100 to the west, and 35W to the east, will be greatly restricted.
“It’s going to be congested, with backups,” Barnard said. “And if there are any crashes or breakdowns, that’s definitely going to affect how traffic moves through the area. So we’re asking people to find other ways to get to work.”
Information sessions are in the works to alert motorists who most depend on 694.
The Medtronic company has a major campus adjacent to the project. It hopes to have MnDOT conduct information briefings for its thousands of employees.
But even the little guys will feel the effects. Dave’s Sports Shop is located just north of the interstate off Central Avenue. Staff there is already getting quizzed by customers.
“They’re just wondering how long it’s going to take to get here, especially during rush hour,” said manager Scott Fuerstenberg. “Also wondering about the different routes to take, and we’re really not sure what that’s going to be.”
From June through October, traffic will be restricted to no more than two lanes each direction, and just a single lane during nighttime hours.
“A lot of businesses around here are going to suffer for that,” said resident Ryan Hahn. “And it will make travel time to other cities a lot longer.”