Project’s tentative schedule runs from March to summer 2018
By Christiaan Tarbox
Sun Post Newspapers
Get ready for a heaping helping of traffic delays and detours: the reconstruction of nine miles of Interstate 94 is set to kick off before March is over.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s $46.3 million resurfacing of the heavily-traveled interstate from Shingle Creek Parkway in Brooklyn Center to Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis is estimated to begin March 20. The repairing and reconstruction of various bridges, pavements, guardrails, curb ramps and more will herald difficulties for commuters who regularly utilize that stretch of I-94.
The project’s first phase will last from March to October or November of this year, before lanes are reopened to their initial configurations for the winter season. Construction will resume in March 2018 and last until the summer. During construction, I-94 will be reduced to two lanes of traffic in each direction from Nicollet Avenue to Highway 55 for bridge repairs.
Traffic will then be shifted from one side of the freeway to the other, while four reduced-width lanes will be given in one portal of Minneapolis’ Lowry Tunnel at a time. North of Highway 55, the interstate will be reduced to two or possibly three lanes in each direction from May to August 2017. The project will heavily affect residents in Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis, said MNDoT Project Manager Marcell Walker.
“Highway 100 is going to be the main detour for (Brooklyn Center commuters) trying to go east on 94,” said Walker. “It will be that north-south connection. We will restrict access from southbound 252 to 94. However, there will be access from southbound 252 to Highway 100 and 694. There will still be impacts, but one of the key things to emphasize is that a lot of our ramp work will take anywhere from one to three weeks, so there will be an assigned detour for each one of those impacts.”
But aside from those three cities, neighboring communities will nonetheless also be impacted by the project, mainly via traffic delays.
“I think we indicated some of the early work that can take place with the two lanes and the ramps, but also we have to restrict access from southbound 252 to 94 heading east, because we’re re-decking the 94 bridge over 252,” said Walker. “That work will start in earnest around May and takes approximately two months to complete. From March until the June-July timeframe, there will be some major impacts in the northern part of this particular project.”
The project’s main goals are to resurface the freeway and repair 50 bridges along the nine-mile stretch between Brooklyn Center and Nicollet Avenue. It will also include the replacement of lighting and guardrails, the installation of an anti-icing system from westbound I-94 to westbound I-694, repairs on draining systems and tiles in the Lowry and Portland Tunnels, and the upgrade of curb ramps at a number of intersections for accessibility.
Walker mentioned that drivers will have numerous resources at their disposal to properly prepare for changes in their daily commutes.
“We have assigned detours to each of our closures that’ll be listed on our project website,” said Walker. “Our project website will be updated as needed. We’ll also have 511 as an option for folks to get live, real-time data throughout the commute. Social media, Twitter, Facebook, a number of different ways to stay informed.”
Walker stressed that the best strategy for countering severe traffic delays is to make additional time for commutes.
“Take a look at the time it takes for you to get from Point A to Point B, wherever your commute is,” said Walker. “Set aside additional time, especially for those first weeks of construction right out the gate. Make sure that you’ve allocated enough time to get to your route. The traffic delays that we expect … are going to be impactful. We will be monitoring traffic and traffic patterns, and working with necessary parties as we can see fit.”
For more information on the Interstate 94 project and how to stay informed on updates on construction, visit mndot.gov/metro/projects/i94brooklyncntr.
Contact Christiaan Tarbox at [email protected]