Next construction phase to cause delays on I-494Transportation officials report no major traffic problems in the first month of Interstate 494 construction in Woodbury. But get ready for the next big traffic test.
Transportation officials report no major traffic problems in the first month of Interstate 494 construction in Woodbury.
But get ready for the next big traffic test.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to close all three Woodbury interchange exits on I-494 to southbound traffic beginning Friday, May 14 and lasting 10 days.
So rather than exit at Tamarack, Valley Creek or Lake roads, commuters trying to enter Woodbury from southbound I-494 will have to exit at Interstate 94 or Bailey Road. Since construction started in early April, the southbound exit at Tamarack Road has remained open.
All three southbound exits must be closed as crews complete concrete, asphalt and lane expansion work on the southbound side of the freeway, said Marc Briese, MnDOT's business liaison for the I-494 project.
In order to complete that project phase, MnDOT also plans to reroute southbound I-494 traffic to temporary lanes on the northbound side of the freeway beginning just north of the I-94 interchange. As a result, there will be only one lane of traffic in each direction crossing the I-494 bridge over I-94. Normally there are two lanes in each direction.
MnDOT is trying to limit the lane closures, but acknowledged there will be back-ups as four total lanes of traffic merge into two at the busiest interchange in the east metro.
“It'll be slow going,” Briese said of the bridge over I-94. “I certainly expect a lot of queuing on northbound 494. How far back that queue extends is more a reflection of how many people stick to their guns and stay on 494 and how many people find different routes.”
When work is complete on the southbound side of the freeway, traffic will be moved to those lanes so crews can work on the northbound lanes.
The first month of construction went well and MnDOT probably is about a week ahead of schedule, Briese said. There were no major weather delays.
MnDOT's I-494 project involves pouring new pavement and asphalt and expanding the freeway to create three continuous lanes of traffic in each direction from I-94 south to the Wakota Bridge.
The I-494 lane expansion and completion of the Wakota Bridge project both are expected to be done July 20.
The upcoming closure of the three southbound interchange exits coincides with the temporary closure earlier this week of the northbound Lake Road exit. That closure, most likely for less than two weeks, was necessary because crews are building a noise barrier wall near the exit ramp, MnDOT said.
Considering the traffic changes and ramp closures, Briese's advice to commuters is to look avoid the interstate if possible.
“I encourage folks to … use whatever maps they have available to look for alternative routes,” he said.