MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - A full shutdown of Interstate 35W from I-94 near downtown Minneapolis to Highway 62 in Richfield had its biggest test on Sunday with a variety of events that were expected to cause traffic headaches for commuters in and around the city all weekend.
The Twin Cities Marathon departed U.S. Bank Stadium at 8 a.m. Sunday, the Vikings played the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium 12 p.m., and the Twins hosted the Detroit Tigers at Target Field at 2:10 p.m.
For the most part, however, traffic seemed to flow relatively smoothly Sunday, with only a few bottlenecks on Highway 100 and Interstate 394, as well as brief traffic on Hiawatha Avenue during both home Gophers and Vikings games.
35W closed completely in both directions Friday morning between Highway 62 and I-94 as crews prepare to demolish the Franklin Avenue Bridge and begin a construction project that is expected to last at least four years.
Some questioned the timing of the closure, saying that surely MNDoT could have rescheduled the project after learning of all the events going on, but the refrain from officials was there there is no good weekend to close a high-traffic corridor like 35W.
"Perhaps we should have reconsidered or thought a little harder about this work on this particular weekend," MNDoT's Director of Communications Kevin Gutknecht said. "However, I would tell you there is no good weekend for a closure like this on a roadway that carries that much traffic.
The freeway is set to reopen at 5 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 2.
After the corridor reopens on Monday, several ramps and lanes will remain closed for a short time. The 31st Street and 35th Street ramps to southbound I-35W will remain closed until early October. Parts of I-35W near 40th Street will also close for approximately one week will Xcel Energy Crews do some work in the area.
MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle statement:
“We have been concerned about this long-planned closure because we know there are many people who will travel to downtown Minneapolis this weekend for major events. We know this is an extremely busy stretch of roadway, and a key access point to Minneapolis and points beyond.
“We have worked hard to communicate with the Minnesota Vikings, the Minnesota Twins, the University of Minnesota and the Twin Cities Marathon well in advance so they have time to alert their patrons about the closure. We have also done significant work with the media, on social media, on our website and with other communications means to alert the traveling public about the closure.
“We are working with Metro Transit, which will be able to use a portion of the closed I-35W during the Twin Cities Marathon. We also urge motorists to plan ahead, and use 511mn.org to determine your route into and out of downtown.
“The redesign of the I-35W corridor through Minneapolis is a very complex project, and the work we accomplish this weekend is necessary to keep it on schedule and any delay would add significant costs to the project. We have been planning this work for several years, and have completed a number of other projects to help reduce the traffic congestion this will cause. Those projects include the recently re-opened Highway 169 which opened a month ahead of schedule, as well as work on the Lowry Tunnel and I-94, Highway 100 and I-394.
“In the Twin Cities metro area, we are dealing with a transportation system that is aging and needs significant preservation work. We regret that we will cause some Minnesotans significant inconveniences by closing the roadway this weekend. Our intent is to get the work done as quickly as we safely can, and get the road open again."