EDINA/BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Drivers who take Interstate 494 from Edina to Bloomington as part of their daily commute will have to pack their patience for the next several years as work began Tuesday evening on one of the Minnesota Department of Transportation'sin department history.
The $377 million project is expected to be complete by fall 2026.
Among the big changes will be adding E-ZPass lanes in each direction on 494 from Highway 100 to Interstate 35W as well as a new flyover ramp at the 35W/494 interchange.
Crews will also be replacing and widening the bridges over I-494 at Portland, Nicollet and 12th avenues to help accommodate more traffic for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists.
There will also be a new pedestrian bridge added at Chicago Avenue.
Crews will be starting near Highway 100 at East Bush Lake Road with work starting on the new flyover ramp at the 35W/494 interchange later this summer.
Greg Asche, the MnDOT project manager for the 494 project, said more than 100,000 vehicles travel this stretch of interstate each day and that number is only expected to go up in the future.
Asche adds I-494 along with the overpass bridges that will be replaced are more than 60 years old and now is the time to fix them to make sure they are safe for drivers in the future.
"As you're driving through the corridor, look for lane shifts and lane closures," Asche said. "There will be access changes both temporary and permanent."
He said it's a long project and they're urging drivers to slow down and be extra careful driving through work zones.
"Everyone working out on the road has a family and they want to go home safe at the end of the day and so we know that it can be frustrating at times driving through work zones but just ask that people please be patient," Asche said.
Safety Signs LLC, a Minnesota-based traffic control company will bethroughout the project as work is expected to take place both during the daytime and overnight hours.
The company's vice president, Reed Leidle, is also encouraging drivers to slow down.
"I feel like overall the traveling public respects the workers and appreciates the work being done even though it can be frustrating to be stuck in backups, but it is hazardous work and that's why our personnel are trained and on the job training is crucial and the experienced personnel know to watch their back," he said.
There will be designated detour routes during every phase of the project, but in general MnDOT recommends highways 100, 62 and 77.
Drivers are encouraged to check 511 for the latest changes to the project and sign up for email updates.
This is the first of four construction projects that are a part of MnDOT's vision for improvements on I-494 from MSP International Airport to Highway 169.
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