Reporting Bill Hudson
NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (WCCO) – When your motto is making “freaky fast” deliveries, the last thing you need to see are orange barrels and detour signs.
It’s been a tough summer for Jimmy John’s delivery driver Joshua McClain.
“The way [the] highway is is just stopping our business from getting here,” McClain said. “So I’m not getting in as many hours of work. And I mean, just to get anyplace, period, 694 is a highway that everybody uses.”
Interstate 694 in the north metro is just one of many reconstruction projects that are snarling traffic across the state. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is working on an aggressive $1.1 billion summer construction schedule with over 300 road improvement projects.
MnDOT’s Kent Barnard says poor spring weather stalled progress in the early going.
“Right now we’re getting some good days and we’re managing to catch up where we were behind earlier in the year,” Barnard said.
In the Twin Cities, projects like the drainage and concrete repair on I-694 is progressing well. Lanes are being switched to allow work on the other half of the interstate.
Further east on the freeway, the major rebuilding of the Snelling Avenue interchange is slated to be completed sometime in November.
State Highway 36 at English Street in Maplewood will have a new interchange to replace what had been a bottleneck at a former traffic light. That will greatly improve flow when it fully reopens in late September.
Meantime, a crumbling Highway 10 in Anoka is getting resurfaced along with bridge improvements. That work will finish in late October.
Barnard says motorists will definitely notice a difference.
“It’s going to be much safer. We’re gonna have shoulders that we can rely on. We’re gonna be able extend the life of the pavement on many of these projects and be able to get quite a few more useful years,” he said.
It’s what makes the long lines and lengthy delays somewhat bearable – a smoother, safer ride in the long run.
The repaving of I-94 from St. Michael to Monticello continues until early September. The stretch from Clearwater to St. Cloud was completed July 31.
And this is the final weekend of restrictions and closures on 169 through Plymouth, with resurfacing wrapping up on Sunday.