MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been called the 19th worst bottleneck in the country by the Federal Highway Administration. Gov. Mark Dayton’s office said now is the time to fix it.
The interchange between Interstate 35W and Interstate 494 in Bloomington experiences from 3 to 5 hours of congestion every weekday, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The interchange was constructed more than a half-century ago with, Dayton’s office said, very few improvements since. It now handles nearly 300,000 vehicles every day, or nearly one-fifth of all daily traffic in the metro area.
Officials fear that an expected increase of 800,000 new Twin Cities residents by 2040 will only exacerbate the problem.
“The time for admiring this problem is over. It is time to roll up our sleeves and do something about it,” Lt. Governor Tina Smith said. “Hundreds of thousands of people drive through this interchange every day on their way to work or school, and back again. … Nearly all of those Minnesotans needlessly waste hours of their time every week stuck inching through bumper-to-bumper traffic.”
Dayton’s proposal would dedicate $75 million for the first phase of reconstruction, including a new turbine-style interchange that would let crews work in phases and avoid large disruptions.
The design would get rid of the short merging lanes.