MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Each week day some 200,000 motorists travel the stretch of Interstate 35W through south Minneapolis. Many of them are heading to work, others to a sporting event or another attraction downtown.
“On Monday, I-35 and I-94 will look very different,” said Scott McBride, a MnDOT metro engineer.
Caution signs are already posted along the interstate, warning of looming detours.
A reroute of traffic is needed because the main entry and exit ramps near the Minneapolis Convention Center will close for the next four months.
The four-year project brings a major rebuild of interstates 35W and 94 commons.
The $239 million project is replacing 11 bridges and adding a major transit hub at Lake Street.
During the construction, getting into downtown will take some careful planning as normal routes will change for anyone coming in from the south metro.
Despite the challenges for motorists, leaders want to reassure them that construction shouldn’t keep anyone away.
“Downtown is open and downtown is accessible for this period of time,” said Steve Cramer, the CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council.
To help ease congestion, downtown traffic signals are being adjusted. Also, Metro Transit will expand service on 12 bus routes serving the south metro customers.
During the 11th Street and 5th Avenue ramp closures, motorists are encouraged to use Highway 62 crosstown, Highway 100 and Interstate 394 to enter and exit the city.
“While we can’t totally and accurately predict where that traffic is going, there are plenty of alternatives for that traffic,” McBride said.
But frustration will certainly grow as traffic slows. That’s why the State Patrol is urging drivers to slow down in work zones or risk a $300 fine.
“Drivers should be 100-percent paying attention to the road, especially when driving through a construction zone,” State Patrol Cpt. Jason Bartell said.