It's orange cone season in Minnesota, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation has more than 200 construction projects planned for this year.
“Safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable transportation is vital to the quality of life and economic success of our state,” MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said in a statement. “Although Minnesota’s transportation needs greatly outnumber available resources, this year’s construction program demonstrates MnDOT’s commitment to making smart investments in our system to better serve all people.”
The 2021 state road construction project list was announced Thursday. Here's an interactive map of MnDOT's planned projects:
Among the biggest projects MnDOT will be working on this year is finishing the years-long Interstate 35W/Interstate 94 project in Minneapolis.
Work on the 2.5-mile stretch of I-35W began in August 2017, with the $239 million project involving the replacement of 11 bridges, building MnPASS lanes and a bus station, and adding wider and more accessible pedestrian bridges.
Here's a look at some of the other major projects planned for this year (the full project list is available here):
- Twin Ports Interchange in Duluth: MnDOT will begin work on this multi-year project to make the I-35, I-353 and Highway 53 interchange in Duluth safer by removing blind merges and left exits, replacing aging infrastructure and improving freight mobility. Construction on "component one" of the $343 million project is expected to last until 2024.
- I-94 and I-35E in St. Paul: MnDOT will be repairing pavement and resurfacing the interstate between Western Avenue and Mounds Boulevard on I-94 and on I-35E between I-94 and University Avenue. The project will include repairing bridges, fixing drainage and making ADA improvements. It is estimated to cost $27 million and will last through the fall of 2022.
- Highway 200 near Leech Lake: MnDOT will resurface 15.6 miles of the highway near the south shore of Leech Lake, replace two culverts, widen the shoulders and add turn lanes. This project is expected to cost $10.6 million and be finished by October of this year.
- Highway 10 in Elk River: MnDOT will be reconstructing the highway between Simonet Drive and Lowell Avenue, adding a multi-use trail and improving access at Proctor Avenue. Work on the $12.1 million project is getting underway on April 19 and is expected to last until November of this year.
- Highway 87 from Frazee to the Becker/Wadena county line: MnDOT will complete this $20 million project this summer, which includes resurfacing and widening 26 miles of Highway 87 between Frazee and Evergreen.
- Highway 14 between Dodge Center and Owatonna: MnDOT will expand 12.5 miles of Highway 14 from two lanes to four lanes to improve capacity, safety, travel times and access. Work on this began last summer, which involved MnDOT adding a special crossing for deer and other wildlife (the state's first). This $108 million project, when complete, will make Highway 14 a continuous four-lane road between Mankato and Rochester. Traffic is scheduled to be able to use the highway in the fall of 2021, with the project being completed in 2022.
- Highway 60 in Waterville: MnDOT will reconstruct and resurface a 17-mile stretch of Highway 60 between Highway 14 and Highway 13 through Madison Lake. The $21 million project will improve sidewalks and crossings, make pedestrian ramps ADA compatible, modify access and turn lanes and improve road lighting. It's expected to be finished this year.
- Highway 12 and Highway 40 in Willmar: MnDOT will realign Highway 12 and reconstruct Highway 40, including adding two new bridges, to facilitate a new railroad line (Willmar Wye) on the west side of Willmar. Roadway construction on this $48 million project will end this summer, while rail line construction will be completed in 2022, marking the completion of the project.
During this year's road construction season, MnDOT is reminding motorists to be alert and drive safely through work zones. In the past six years, 49 people have died and more than 4,900 people were injured in work-zone traffic crashes, Kelliher said in a news release.