NEW BRIGHTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Several times a day, cab driver Bashir Abdi takes a fare over Interstate 694 between New Brighton and Brooklyn Center.

But his days are about to get much longer, and his patience much shorter.

Beginning Monday night, a 5-month-long reconstruction project will start to squeeze all the interstate’s traffic into half the lanes.

“We’re looking at two lanes of traffic each direction during daytime hours and then a single lane of traffic overnight, and that’s going to be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Kent Barnard, of the Department of Transportation.

Repair work will be done over the entire stretch of freeway – from state Highway 252 on the west to I-35W on the east.

Lanes will be restricted in each direction so crews can repair concrete joints, resurface ramps and rebuild the 252/694 interchange.

“It’s always busy,” said Ashley Peters, who works in the area.

At the Silver Lake Smiles Family Dentistry office, Peters is already cautioning customers to build in a little extra time.

“Especially the afternoon appointments. They come from work, so they’re already sometimes late with rush hour. So now this is just going add more time,” Peters said.

Some 124,000 vehicles travel on I-694 each day. Doug Bartholomew is one of them, commuting from his home in Mahtomedi to work in New Brighton

He is already considering his options.

“I might actually try to work from home until rush hour kind of runs its course,” he said. “But on days I  have to get in early, I’m definitely going to leave real early.”

Barnard of MnDOT added: “I don’t mince words on this one – it’s going to be a challenge for motorists out there.”

Bill Hudson