MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Department of Transportation will close a portion of the Lowry Hill Tunnel later than announced, due to expected traffic from Thursday night’s sporting events.
Several lanes of the Lowry Hill Tunnel have been closed for about two months for renovations, severing the connection between eastbound Interstate 94 and southbound Interstate 35W, and giving drivers at 15-mile detour.
All lanes on both sides were reopened Thursday morning, however MnDOT said that they would be closing the westbound side from 10 p.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday.
Almost every major sports team is playing a home game in town this evening, including a preseason Vikings game against the Miami Dolphins, and a Minnesota Gophers game at TCF Bank Stadium.
Because of the expected traffic from those games, in addition to expected traffic from the Minnesota State Fair, a representative from MnDOT told WCCO they would push the closure of westbound 94 at the Lowry Tunnel back to 11 p.m. instead of 10 p.m.
WCCO asked MnDOT why they would shut down all the westbound lanes of the tunnel on such a busy night. They say it’s because they need to replace the tunnel’s lights, many of which were damaged by truck drivers illegally driving through during the renovations.
MnDOT says their contract with the construction companies bars them from working over the Labor Day weekend. The department doesn’t want to wait until after Labor Day because the lack of lighting in the tunnel is a safety concern.