Major traffic shift starts this week as part of I-35W MnPASS project in north metro

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It was only a matter of time. More and more construction projects are starting up again and drivers in the north metro are about to see some big changes.

A major traffic shift goes into place this week along Interstate 35W as part of the larger MnPASS project that’s underway between Roseville and Lino Lakes. Drivers traveling northbound will need to choose a lane before reaching County Road C. Stay to the right to access I-35W exits, stay to the left if continuing north. Construction on the three-year project is set to wrap up this fall.

While traffic congestion is still down due to the pandemic, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said some folks are still taking advantage of the MnPASS lanes.

"There are some people that really, it’s sort of that set it and forget it. They get in that left lane and they can just go, whether there is traffic there or not," said Sue Gergen, with MnDOT.

MnDOT said its monthly revenue is slowly climbing. The income for March was expected to be close to $30,000, up from the summer of 2020 when toll revenue was about $14,000 per month. However, those numbers are still down considerably from the pre-COVID monthly average of $431,000. Still, MnDOT said most subscribers are keeping their accounts open.

"It’s only been a small, small percentage of people that have used COVID-19/pandemic/work from home as their reason for closing their account. Most of the reasons have been because they are relocating, or moving, or got a new job or retiring, " Gergen said.

The average price for using the MnPASS lanes right now is about 45 cents. Prior to the pandemic, the average was about $1.50. Surprisingly, MnDOT said there were even a few times in the last year, during the pandemic, that the price jumped to the maximum of $8. Revenue from MnPASS lanes is usually spent on improvement projects. Click here to learn more about MnPASS.