MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Since the Lowry Hill Tunnel was cut in half earlier this week, many motorists have avoided the area altogether. Large trucks, however, continue to travel through the narrow tunnel, despite new rules banning it as a route for them.
Due to construction, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has banned trucks over 9,000 pounds to go through the Lowry Hill Tunnel. According to MnDOT, large semi-trucks continue to squeeze through the tunnel.
The ban was put in place because the lanes are only 10 feet wide going through the narrow, construction-ridden tunnel. Additionally, there is no shoulder, meaning there is no room for error.
MnDOT told Fox 9’s Maury Glover that one truck damaged lights inside the tunnel, causing a lane to shut down for an hour and a half on Tuesday evening. Another truck barely missed hitting the crew out repairing the same lights.
“We don’t want anyone to get stuck,” said Dave Aiekens, with MnDOT Public Affairs. “We don’t want any vehicles hit, or have any big crashes it’s just not safe right now.”
On Thursday evening, a semi-truck went through the tunnel and hit a passenger car, injuring the driver of the car. The trooper who responded to the incident said that semis and passenger cars cannot fit through the tunnel at the same time.
While most trucks seem to be obeying the rule, Fox 9 kept an eye on the tunnel all day and those on the scene saw several semis that appear to be over 9,000 pounds go through the tunnel anyway.
One of those trucks was a school bus, risking a $300 ticket in the process.
“It’s a concern,” said Aiekens. “We’ve got the State Patrol there enforcing it.”
MnDOT representatives said they communicated with trucking companies about the ban months ago.
The State Patrol is also cracking down on drivers who speed through the construction zone. The speed limit is reduced to 40 miles an hour in the area. Police have already issued 67 speeding citations.
“We appreciate the work the truckers do, but we really need them not to use that tunnel right now,” said Aiekens.