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MnDOT launches big 35W construction project this weekend

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The I-35W construction project will go 24 hours a day, seven days a week until September, says MnDOT spokesman Nick Thompson.   The good news, Thompson says, is when complete the major commuter route will have more lanes and an array of modern transportation technology.

"The first phases of the bus rapid transit or BRT will be added. The express lane, what's called MNPASS will be added to this corridor. (There'll be) new and expanded bus services, and also this concept called managed corridors where we'll have dynamic message signs spaced over every lane, every half mile of the road that will allow us to manage the road in real time," he says.

The signs, Thompson says, will inform drivers of conditions ahead.

That's the good news. 

And now, the bad news. Between now and then, Thompson says, motorists can expect major disruptions as lanes are closed, traffic is diverted and drivers make adjustments, Thompson said.

"This will have a tremendous impact on traffic. Especially the first few days of any big construction project...are usually the worst as people may not be aware of it or are not sure how to drive through it or maybe people start to shift around their times or routes a little bit after the first couple days," he said.   During construction, motorists are urged to carpool, take the bus, alter their times of commute and talk to their employers about telecommuting.

The 35W improvements are funded by a $133.3 million grant and $50.2 million in matching state funds, and will create about 5,000 jobs.

Already underway along 35W in south Minneapolis is another major project, the reconstruction of the Crosstown interchange which won't be finished until next year.