October 05, 2017 06:10 AM
A major project along Interstate 94 in the east metro is almost complete.
Drivers have been dealing with lane closures and a sometimes confusing configuration along the interstate since the spring of 2016.
"At the end of this project, we’ll have a smooth road," said Marcell Walker of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "And so it will be improved for people to drive on, along with an increase in drainage structures and flow of water. So the road won’t flood as much as it previously did."
Within a few days, the traffic split on I-94 eastbound is scheduled to disappear. Lanes will return to normal between Mounds Boulevard in St. Paul and Century Avenue in Maplewood.
Currently, the eastbound side of the roadway has at least one thru lane and one exit lane. Drivers are forced to make a choice between using the right lane to exit inside the work zone, or staying to the left to continue straight through on I-94.
MnDOT has tried to minimize traffic disruptions caused by the project through use of a tool called a movable barrier. This unique piece of construction equipment allows MnDOT to keep three lanes of traffic open during peak travel times and reduce the roadway to two lanes during non-peak hours.
"It travels along the road and it picks up the barrier, and within the machine it moves it over," explained MnDOT Maintenance Operations engineer Tiffany Dagon.
Renting the movable barrier, though, comes at a high price.
"We (knew it was) going to cost," Dagon said. "And with this project, it was three million dollars for that barrier. To rent the barrier, have it moved every day multiple times. So we look at that cost and compare it to the road-user cost."
MnDOT has used the movable barrier equipment on various road construction projects for about five years now. As of now, it’s not scheduled for any upcoming projects.
Meanwhile, the work on I-94 isn’t done yet. Starting at 9 p.m.Thursday, the eastbound side of I-94 will shift to the far outside lane between Mounds Boulevard and Century Avenue for striping. Crews should wrap up by 6 a.m. Friday. On Monday October 9, the same segment will be reduced to one lane overnight from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
By Tuesday morning, all three newly paved lanes will be open on I-94 eastbound, the traffic split will disappear, and a number of ramps will open along that stretch as well. Learn more about the project.
Updated: October 05, 2017 06:10 AM
Created: October 04, 2017 09:43 AM
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