MnDOT builds concrete tanks to alleviate flash flooding on I-35W in Minneapolis

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A busy stretch of Interstate 35W in south Minneapolis has a history of flash flooding. So, on Monday, MnDOT took its first steps to try to alleviate the issue once and for all.

The department plans to use giant underground storm water tanks to prevent the dangerous flooding. The last time I-35W near 42nd Street saw significant flooding was in June 2010 when a downpour left the interstate impassable. People pushed stalled vehicles to safety as other drivers were forced to wait for the water to recede.

At the time, homeowners said Mother Nature had a habit of creating a wet mess in the low-lying freeway corridor.

Today, contractors started drilling the first holes in an effort to alleviate the issue for good.

The first-of-its-kind project involves half-a-dozen large, underground tanks right along the 35W northbound lanes. The hope is that once completed, the tanks will store excess storm water the freeway drainage system can’t handle and thus keep the roadway clear.

“We want to keep it safe, and this will help reduce the flooding in big rain events,” said MnDOT Spokesman Dave Aeikens.

MnDOT has budgeted the next four years and $68 million to get the tanks built and in place. The project coincides major construction work already happening on 35W, including a new pedestrian bridge at 40th Street.

Over the next couple years, drivers will get a good look as the tanks are built, but they’ll eventually end up underground and out of sight.