The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) began work Tuesday, May 30, on one of the largest road and bridge construction projects in its history.
The $377 million project will make changes to Interstate 494 from Edina to Bloomington and span several years.
This is the first of four construction projects that will improve I-494 from MSP International Airport to Highway 169.
Big improvements will include adding E-ZPass lanes in each direction on 494 from Highway 100 to Interstate 35W, widening and replacing bridges over I-494 at Portland, Nicollet and 12th avenues to accommodate traffic of all kinds, and a new pedestrian bridge at Chicago Avenue.
A new flyover ramp will also be installed at the 35W/494 interchange later this summer.
Crews have started construction near Highway 100 at East Bush Lake Road.
MnDOT project manager for the 494 project, Greg Asche, is urging drivers to slow down on the behalf of the department; he says the project will be long, and there will be several work zones.
"As you're driving through the corridor, look for lane shifts and lane closures," Asche said. "There will be access changes both temporary and permanent."
"Everyone working out on the road has a family and they want to go home safe at the end of the day and so we know that it can be frustrating at times driving through work zones but just ask that people please be patient," Asche said.
Signage will be set up and maintained by Minnesota-based Safety Signs LLC throughout the duration of the project for construction taking place in both daytime and overnight hours.
Safety Signs’ president, Reed Leidle, also encourages drivers to slow down.
"I feel like overall the traveling public respects the workers and appreciates the work being done even though it can be frustrating to be stuck in backups, but it is hazardous work and that's why our personnel are trained and on the job training is crucial and the experienced personnel know to watch their back," he said.
Detour routes will be in place through every phase of the project, but MnDOT recommends highways 100, 62, and 77.
Drivers can find the latest information about closures and detours on MnDOT’s website.
The project is expected to be completed by 2026.
Source: CBS NEWS Minnesota