By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you are one of the 200,000 motorists who drive Interstate 35W south of Minneapolis every day, you have probably already noticed the delays.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has begun a four-and-a-half year project that will overhaul I-35W from just south of Minneapolis to the crosstown. The project will involve major closures in an area that is one of the busiest in the entire Twin Cities metro.

MnDOT has released an animation that shows the finished project, with smooth running traffic along I-35W with easier access to Lake Street.

For drivers, the current construction reality is far different. Minneapolis resident Bob Olson told us, “Everything is going to be a lot more crowded headed that way. Nothing you can do about it.”

MnDOT officials say they had no choice.

“The current pavement is 50 years old. We generally say our pavement lasts 50 years,” MnDOT Engineer Aaron Tag said.

Related: MnDOT Announces 4-Year Construction Project For Interstate 35W

MnDOT says motorists should sign up for email updates by going to the project’s web page. The agency is also warning of major problems the next two weekends, because of preparations to tear down the Franklin Street Bridge.

All lanes of I-35W from downtown Minneapolis to the crosstown will be shut down this weekend and next. This coming weekend will be especially busy with the Twin Cities Marathon, a Vikings’ game, two Twins games and a Wild game.

MnDOT insists despite all the events, they have to do the work.

“It’s always difficult to find weekends to do work, especially as we get into the fall and as we get up against the snow flying and we are trying to get as much done as we can,” Tag said.

MnDOT says the detour for the next two weekends is Highway 100, which it says should be less congested because the stretch of Highway 169, which has been closed for eight months, is scheduled to reopen this Wednesday.

On Monday, lane closures began in both directions of I-35W at 40th Street for Xcel Energy project work.

Also, the right lane of northbound I-35W will be closed between 42nd Street and 39th Street for utility work.

The $240 million project also includes more reconstruction and improvements on bridges over the freeway, new exit ramps to the Lake Street business district and a new transit hub at Lake Street.

To keep up with the closures over the next four years, here is a link on MnDOT’s page for the construction project. That’s where you can sign up for those email alerts.


Esme Murphy