MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Maintaining 12,000 miles of state roadway and 5,000 bridges is a never-ending job.
“We are repaving roadways, repairing and painting bridges, we are working on culverts,” said MnDOT commissioner, Charlie Zelle.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation will oversee 253 summer construction projects worth $1.1 billion.
Three of those projects will have a great impact on motorists.
Interstate 35 at Forest Lake will be repaved between state Highway 97 and Highway 8. That work will be performed over the next two summers.
Highway 169 in Champlin is getting a new Elm Creek bridge, pedestrian and bicycle underpass at West River Road as well as some realignment at Hayden Lake Road.
But it will take four summers to rebuild the heavily congested and aging 35W between downtown Minneapolis and Lake Street.
The original pavement dates back to 1964.
“That work will continue through 2021,” says MnDOT West Metro engineer, Michael Beer.
Beer explains that to help ease congestion, high capacity lanes dedicated to MnPASS users will be added to reach all the way downtown.
In addition, the northbound 35W ramp to westbound Interstate-94 will get realigned, to allow motorists to exit safely and more efficiently.
“Where the bridge merges with 94 it will come in from the left where we identified most traffic wants to continue on and don’t want to exit right away,” Beer said. “So it will help with some of the congestion we get with traffic merging there.”
But ramp closures and lane restrictions will create the unavoidable headaches and delays that accompany all major road construction.
That’s why the State Patrol is cautioning all motorists to slow down in work zones and pay careful attention while staying off their cell phones.
Anyone caught speeding through a work zone will be slapped with a $300 fine.
Says Minnesota State Patrol Colonel, Matt Langer: “Yes, there will be an enforcement presence. The state patrol will be out in work zones, more frequently in some than others, but will be vigilant all across the state.”