The shutdown could affect commuters this morning. Metro Transit buses and trains are operating on normal schedules, the Stillwater Lift Bridge is open, but road construction projects have stopped. Reporter Dan Olson checked out a major construction site along Interstate 94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul this morning.
Q: What's happening with construction in the state?
A: Construction is suspended. Some congestion is caused when construction sites are up and running because of gawker slowdown, but there won't be any work to gawk at this morning. MnDOT says work stops at all of them, more than 100 around the state. Then there's a ripple effect because MnDOT works with cities and counties on their projects, so work at those sites is also suspended.
Q: I remember hearing this was supposed to be a busy construction season, so what are some of the projects that have stopped?
A: This one along Interstate 94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul, then there's the Highway 169 and Interstate 494 project in the southwest metro. Another is the Lafayette Bridge replacement in St. Paul and the new 101 and Highway 13 interchange in Savage. Then the Highway 36 and Rice Street interchange in St. Paul. In greater Minnesota one of the bigger impacts is suspension of work on Interstate 35 from the northern Twin Cities suburbs up to Duluth.
Q: Have barricades been removed from these sites so you can get through faster?
A: Construction crews were supposed to leave work sites in the best condition possible for traffic movement. So that means in some places more lanes are open, but it depends what stage construction is at.
Q: What are some things that normally help commuters that aren't operating today?
A: First response trucks that help motorists stopped along the road aren't out there, ramp meters and traffic cameras aren't working, and the MnDOT online traffic map is down. MnPass users who use the fast lanes for a fee won't be able to, because that service is down. The high occupancy lanes are open to car poolers and motorcycles.
Q: For the construction work, what happens to the money for all this?
A: It was going to be a big season, and the governor said even more money would go for potholes and other problems. Construction contractors say the delays will cost money. They'll charge mobilizing and de-mobilizing fees. It gets a little lawyerly here, but that's for moving equipment on and off the site. If this drags on, contractors might go off to other states to seek work, and there might be further delays from suppliers.
Q: Can these delays be made up or do construction project get pushed into next season?
A: MnDOT can ask contractors to accelerate their work, but that costs extra, and a longer delay pushes things back. MnDOT has suspended awarding new contracts for at least next month so that could delay things considerably.
(MPR reporter Elizabeth Dunbar transcribed this Q and A.)