MnDOT unveils $1.1 billion in road work

Published 9:23 am Thursday, March 28, 2013

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Wednesday unveiled its 2013 plans for repairing, rebuilding and refurbishing stateroads and bridges to the tune of $1.1 billion in state and federal funds.

This year’s roads and bridges project lists includes 87 in the Twin Cities area, 193 in greater Minnesota and an additional 57 statewide involving railroad crossings, seawalls and docks, regional airport runways and terminals, and transit centers.

MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said the ultimate goal is a transportation system that’s more reliable, quicker and safer. But department officials acknowledged that reaching that goal would mean hassles for many drivers who will be forced to navigate closed roads, reduced lanes and other challenges to a quick commute. “Yes, construction causes traffic tie-ups, congestion, things like that,” said MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht. “But when we’re done, they provide a better product, a smoother ride, a safer road.”

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The projects slated for the Albert Lea vicinity were detailed Sunday in the Albert Lea Tribune.

For motorists planning to go to the Twin Cities, here are some chokepoints they could encounter:

• The resurfacing of Interstate 94 for seven miles between St. Cloud and Clearwater will reduce traffic to one lane in both directions for the 7.5-mile stretch from April through July. MnDOT is predicting “delays and long backups during peak travel periods” on a highway heavily used by both commuters between the Twin Cities and St. Cloud, and on weekends by people traveling to cabins and resorts.

• The full closure for 75 days, starting in mid-April, of a small portion of Highway 36 in Maplewood near the Highway 61 interchange.

• Two projects likely to increase commuting headaches in downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul: the replacement of Park Avenue and Portland Avenue bridges over I-94 in Minneapolis, putting those arterial streets out of commission for three months starting in May; and the replacement of the Lafayette Bridge on Highway 52 in St. Paul, which will close the passage to vehicles longer than 35 feet starting in April.