The Minnesota Department of Transportation was not planning to close any lanes on Interstate 94 through Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis until mid-April.
Surprise: They began on Monday.
Signs went up last week informing drivers that two lanes of eastbound I-94 in Brooklyn Center will be closed from where I-94 splits from I-694 near Shingle Creek Parkway over to what’s often called the Brooklyn Center Curve at the junction of Hwy. 252. MnDOT will keep at least one general lane and the shoulder open to maintain two lanes of traffic, but motorists can expect delays, said spokesman David Aeikens.
Then starting next Monday, at least one on-ramp and one off-ramp at Shingle Creek will be closed, although Aeikens was unsure which ramps would be shut down. The closures will be in place for two weeks.
All of this is weather permitting, Aeikens said, but with Monday being the first day of spring and a favorable forecast calling for dry conditions and above-freezing temperatures for the first part the week, the contractor hired by MnDOT for the $46.4 million project decided to get started.
Think of the early lane closures as a way to ease into what’s coming down the pike as we roll into spring and summer.
The first task on the “to do” list is fixing the bridge over Shingle Creek — the actual creek, not the road by that name. That is what will bring road closures this week on eastbound I-94.
Meanwhile, drivers will see lots of scaffolding going up near the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Crews will be doing prep work on the underside of bridges before rehab work on the top begins in earnest in early May. While prep work won’t have any impact on I-94 traffic at least until May, those who park under the bridges may need an alternate place.
By mid- to late April, drivers will really start to feel the pinch. The number of traffic lanes available on I-94 between Nicollet Avenue in downtown Minneapolis and Hwy. 252 will be reduced in both directions.
Come May, drivers will start sharing one side of the Lowry Hill Tunnel, an arrangement featuring 10-foot-wide lanes and no trucks that will be in place for three months. Access to and from I-394 also will be cut off.
Aeikens tells the Drive that crews will start rebuilding the westbound I-94 flyover bridge above Hwy. 252 around May 1. While that task is being completed, southbound Hwy. 252 will be closed at the I-94/I-694 interchange and traffic diverted to Hwy. 100. That closure will be in place for about three months.
With Minnesota weather as flaky as it is, and with the unforeseen that comes with construction, things may happen earlier or take longer than scheduled.
What is for sure is that over the course of six months, MnDOT will repair more than 50 bridges and repave and rehabilitate 9 miles of freeways originally constructed in the 1980s. Ramps at 49th and Dowling avenues and W. Broadway will be closed at times. It lasts until October, so brace yourself.
About the Dovre Drive closure
Accuracy is job No. 1 of the journalist, but once in a while we get it wrong. The Drive reported March 11 that the Edina City Council voted unanimously to close Dovre Drive to keep motorists from cutting through the Parkwood Knolls neighborhood. The vote was 4 to 1.
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