Construction season begins leaving commuters to weather storm

The last few years haven’t been easy in the restaurant business, but Lucky’s 13 in Bloomington has weathered the storms pretty well.

"Even the construction, COVID, all that," noted manager Ben Yau.

Sitting at the corner of Highway 494 and Interstate-35W, the restaurant has a front row seat to the massive, multi-year project to make traffic flow much smoother – fueled by a healthy number of regulars, business hasn’t taken a hit, but they’ve certainly noticed it.

"More so what we would feel is the jackhammering and stuff," said Yau. "I mean you could feel it in the ground."

Work began in earnest on the 494 revamp last year, but as construction season dawns in Minnesota, it’s about to ramp up again.

Overnight on Monday, crews will pour concrete on the turbine bridge being built to eventually take traffic northbound to westbound, eliminating one loop of the long-outdated cloverleaf that causes congestion from too many merge points.

It closes half the interchange and re-routes parts of 35W, but it is only overnight, so the pain for most drivers is minimal. But it’s just the beginning.

Later in the week, the westbound off-ramp at Penn Avenue closes for a few weeks. Further to the west, two ramps at the Highway 100 interchange are already closed until May 7. And come April 18, a third close through June.

Until fall, drivers can expect intermittent lane closures along 494 between Bush Lake Road and 12th Avenue, as work continues on Mn-Pass lanes in both directions, as well as, replacing bridges at Portland, Nicollet and 12th avenues. Those closures are also planned for overnights.

Already parts of roads both to the north and south of 494 are closed to accommodate the work. And get ready for more inconveniences to come, because the entire project is slated to go through 2026.

But no pain, no gain. Because 494 has been a congestion problem for a long time, which all these projects hope to ease.