If you are planning on driving around the north, south or east metro this weekend be prepared to take a detour or rely on a favorite back route.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation doesn't normally close portions of seven major highways on the same weekend. But projects delayed two weeks by April's cold and soggy weather stacked on top of construction already underway are combining to create the motoring misery.
"We want to move the projects along and eventually get them done and out of your way completely," said MnDOT spokeswoman Anne Meyer.
Closures in effect from Friday night to Monday morning will affect drivers on Hwy. 10 in Anoka and Elk River, Hwy. 36 in Lake Elmo, Interstate 494 and Hwy. 55 in Inver Grove Heights and Mendota Heights, and I-35W in south Minneapolis.
The biggest headaches may play out in the northwest metro where motorists using Hwy. 10 will encounter back-to-back detours. The highway will be closed from 7th Avenue to Hwy. 47/Ferry Street in Anoka. While crews remove and replace water mains, sanitary sewer and storm sewer utilities, drivers will be directed to use Hwy. 610 and I-94 to Hwy. 101.
Just to the west in Elk River, motorists on Hwy. 10 will encounter another detour at the Hwy. 10/101/169 interchange. MnDOT will be removing the Hwy. 101/169 bridge over Hwy. 10. Drivers will be sent north or south on Hwy. 169, then turn around and return to the interchange and use ramps to access Hwy. 10.
In south Minneapolis, southbound lanes of I-35W will be closed from I-94 to 46th Street for concrete repair. Northbound lanes will remain open.
Two projects will affect drivers in the south and southeast metro. Eastbound I-494 will shut down between Hwy. 5 and I-35E while westbound lanes will be closed between I-35E and Pilot Knob Road. Nearby, both directions of Hwy. 55 remain closed between Argenta Trail and Mendota Heights Road through May 28. Additionally, westbound Hwy. 55 is closed between Mendota Heights Road and Hwy. 5 for pavement repairs.
After postponements the past two weekends, crews expect to be able to pour the deck for a new overpass on Hwy. 36 at Manning Avenue in Lake Elmo. That work will close the highway and drivers will be directed onto county roads to bypass the area.
Eastbound drivers will run into another snag as lanes will be shut down between Edgerton Street in Little Canada and Hwy. 61 in Maplewood as crews begin a resurfacing project.
All that does not include other traffic-jamming projects such as I-94 in downtown St. Paul where the freeway is slimmed to two lanes and several ramps and bridges are closed.
The multiple-cone zones are a lot, acknowledges MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard, who asks motorists to exercise patience.
"Hopefully we won't have many weekends like this," he said. "It's going to be busy. It's going to be a nice weekend to stay home and get yard work done."