Updated: July 05, 2021 07:12 PM
Created: July 05, 2021 05:50 PM
A highly traveled stretch of Interstate 494 from Eden Prairie to Richfield is set to become the state's largest construction project.
The I-494: Airport to Highway 169 Project will cost an estimated $304 million when it begins in 2023.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation just received a new $60 million federal infrastructure grant to help make it possible.
"This is a critical project in Minnesota. This is one of our most important, if not the most important, freight corridor in the state because of the connection to the airport," said Margaret Kelliher, the MnDOT commissioner.
A nearly 10-mile stretch of the interstate will see improvements, including the addition of MnPASS Express Lanes to help cut down on rush hour traffic, roadway safety upgrades and new pavement to give drivers a smoother ride.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke about the project in Bloomington Monday, saying lawmakers have fought for this funding for years.
"I'm excited about this. It's showing that we are investing in our infrastructure in the Twin Cities as people are starting to get back to work. We know we want to have a system that works for the future," Klobuchar said.
Up to 8,500 freight vehicles use the I-494 corridor daily, according to MnDOT.
The agency said congestion can occur up to 10 hours per day, reducing travel speed from 60 mph to 34 mph.
"The study showed that 86 of 87 Minnesota counties were represented by vehicles on I-494 on a typical work day. This is a road used by all of Minnesota, whether it's to the airport, to the Mall of America, simply to get through the metropolitan area. It is an incredibly important piece of infrastructure in the state of Minnesota, and it's just wonderful we're going to be able to fix this up and get this to a point where it's a lot more efficient than it is right now," said Bloomington Mayor Tim Busse.
Phase one of the multi-year project will run from May 2023 to October 2026.
Kelliher said MnDOT is working with Google and Apple to update smartphone maps, so drivers will know the detours before heading toward a construction zone.
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