MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are at least five MnDOT road construction projects across the Twin Cities this summer. That has many drivers fed up, including Chris from Wayzata, who isn’t enjoying his commute to St. Paul.
He wants to know: How does MnDOT decide on road construction projects? Good Question.
“It starts with the condition of the pavement and the bridges,” says Tom O’Keefe, director of MnDOT’s Office of Program Delivery. “The pavement and bridges are aging.”
One of MnDOT’s top consideration is how much work is needed on the roads and bridges and how long MnDOT can wait to fix them. The longer a road goes without maintenance, the more it costs to maintain. Without repairs and repaving, the roads and bridges are more susceptible to failure.
MnDOT works out over a ten-year plan. In Hennepin County, for example, MnDOT has several north-south projects that will take 20 construction seasons to complete. MnDOT wants to finish them in seven years.
“We’re going to have some conflicts with those projects, the question is how do you minimize those conflicts,” says O’Keefe.
Another priority is trying to avoid closing lanes or roads that are too close together or follow similar routes. Last summer, MnDOT conducted construction on Highway 100 south of I-394 and on I-494 north of I-394.
“That was advantageous one was north, one was south so you could make more use of the alternate routes,” says O’Keefe.
When it comes to Minnesota most heavily traveled roads, MnDOT wants to make sure they aren’t under construction during the same time. MnDOT waited to finish work on Highway 100 and I-494 before starting on I-94. It also wants to finish work on I-94 before starting on I-35W next year.
Funding is also taken into considerations. In some cases, MnDOT gets special state or federal money that can only be used during a specific time, like this summer project along I-694.