Summer of 2013 could be a season of frustration for commuters, when 17 miles of Interstate 35 will be closed or hobbled for repairs.
The two-part, $20 million project is expected to cause significant backups and delays.
The fork between I-35E and I-35W will be the most drastically affected. Southbound lanes of I-35 E between Burnsville's County Road 42 and the split will be closed for a month while construction crews demolish the deck of I-35E's flyover bridge, and then build it anew.
"There's a pretty big crack across the deck, and our engineers felt they couldn't bring it back up to repair with standard maintenance," said Nicole Danielson-Bartelt, who presented the plan to the city on behalf of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. "Unfortunately, it's the worst bridge to have to do (this work) on."
MnDOT also plans to extensive repairs for six other bridges on I-35, and pavement resurfacing along the road as well.
Construction will begin in May 2013. A portion of I-35W will be closed overnight on May 4, from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. to allow crews to begin demolition. After that, the southbound stretch of I-35E from Burnsville to Cliff Road will be closed for 30 days.
In the meantime, traffic will be diverted onto I-494 West and I-35W South.
The northern half of the project will wrap up around July 15, right before the second phase commences. From mid-July to November, MnDOT will refurbish I-35 from County Road 2 in Elko/New Market up to the split in Burnsville. During that time, the road will be reduced to a single lane in both directions.
To complicate matters, the revamp of I-35 will coincide with a number of county and city projects in the south metro.
"As you can see there are a number of projects—21—for next year in the south area. We're trying to avoid conflicts with these projects as best we can," Danielson-Bartelt said.
Bids on the project will be let in March. For more information, go to http://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/i35eelkotoeagan/index.html.