The I-35W Construction Project - No Pain, No Gain

Apr 29, 2018

Written by: Tom Klaers, Clean Response

This article was written in March 2018 for the 2018 Quarter Two Newsletter.

A stakeholders meeting was held at the downtown Minneapolis library on February 21st and MnDOT representatives were there to explain the need for the I-35W large scale project and the benefits once it is completed. MnDOT acknowledges this will lengthen commute times all around the Twin Cities and be painfully frustrating for drivers. MnDOT understands that most businesses may be affected by reductions in customers, lost revenue, increased costs, lost productivity, more payroll hours and changes in work schedules. However, as with many other road construction projects in recent years, within a week or two, everyone seems to find a way to adjust to new circumstances. 

Last summer, this four years I-35W road construction project began and will go into full swing this summer. Improvements will be made between Crosstown Highway 62 and downtown Minneapolis. 

There are 5 stages within the project: 
  • Stage 1 began Summer of 2017 and runs to Summer of 2018
  • Stage 2 runs Summer 2018 - Fall 2018
  • Stage 3 runs Fall 2018 - Summer 2019
  • Stage 4 runs Summer 2019 - Fall 2020
  • Stage 5 runs Fall 2020 - Fall 2021

So far, the project has had a slow start in order to ensure there would be minimal disruptions to traffic until after the Super Bowl. Project will ramp up as the weather warms and we experienced the first of many weekend road closures on March 2-4, 2018. There will also be increased ramp closures, lane closures and detours. Despite the challenges of this large project, we all should be pleased with the final results. 

The benefits of these infrastructure improvements includes: 
  • Repaving the entire stretch of road
  • Reworking retaining walls and sound barriers
  • Replacing 11 bridges and repairing 4 bridges
  • A new Lake Street Transit station in the middle of the freeway which will serve the Orange Line (bus route), with new center ramps to the transit station
  • A bus only ramp into downtown Minneapolis at 12th Street
  • Dedicated MNPASS lanes all the way in and out of downtown
  • Improved traffic flow with better connections from I-35W to I-94 East and West
  • Bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the freeway include pedestrian paths, ADA access and a new connection from the Greenway to the new Lake Street transit station

For safety reasons and because the side streets and local roads are not designed for the volume of traffic, MnDOT is asking drivers not to cut through the local neighborhoods adjacent to I-35W. Instead, follow the detour routing traffic to Highway 100 via the Crosstown and I-394. MnDOT suggests commuters use mass transit options and carpooling during rush hours. Employers in downtown and along the construction and detour routes are encouraged to offer employees flexible schedules and telecommuting to help alleviate congestion. 

More information from MnDOT is available on the website at, their hotline - (612) 284-6125, or you can email them at

So as we move from our first season (winter) into our second season (road construction), remember some of the many projects we have been through in the past. Last year's I-94/Lowry Hill Tunnel project, with all traffic being routed through one barrel of the tunnel for much of the summer. Also, last year's repairs to I-94 east of downtown St. Paul to Woodbury. Or the rebuilding of the I-35W bridge after the collapse. We are Minnesotans and we survive the winters and make the best of road construction season. Remember to slow down, be courteous and arrive safely. 

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