MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a noticeable lack of motorists as more Minnesotans are working from home. But lower traffic levels are giving construction crews an early start to a number of summer road projects.

On Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation announced an early start to the work — 188 road and bridge projects, along with 66 modal projects, according to Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

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Anderson Kelliher says lighter traffic is a welcome gift. Crews rebuilding ramps and resurfacing lanes will get a head start on the Highway 5 reconstruction work near Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“Originally, we were going to put it off until after the spring holidays and breaks. But our contractors will get out there next week, a couple of weeks early,” Anderson Kelliher said.

The largest of the metro area projects include continuation of the Interstate 35W bridge crossing over the Minnesota River in Burnsville.

Also, crews will continue the multi-year Interstate 35W reconstruction through south Minneapolis. That work involves new bridges, sound barrier walls, ramps and mass transit improvements.

“Normally, we try to avoid the prime-time lane closures. Right now, we can get out and do a bunch of maintenance work as well as other work that needs to be done in the system,” Anderson Kelliher adds.

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Other metro projects include resurfacing Interstate 94 in Maple Grove, on the section between the Highway 610 and Highway 101. Interstate 94 will also be resurfaced between Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis to highway 280.

Work also continues adding MnPass lanes to Interstate 35W between County Road C in Roseville and Lexington Avenue in Blaine.

“We know based on other places where it is in effect that it really helps traffic travel times,” Anderson Kelliher said.

However, less traffic this spring and summer won’t mean less danger. Motorists should expect lane closures and shifts throughout the summer.

The Commissioner cautions motorists to buckle up, put down the phone and slow down. In highway work zones, it’s the law.

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For more information on MnDOT’s complete list of projects, click here.