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I-35W ramp closures bring traffic woes to downtown Minneapolis

Downtown exits off of I-35W will be closed until the fall.

The first morning of ramp closures during the work week into downtown Minneapolis was marked by delays along I-35W.

Just before 8 a.m., northbound traffic on I-35W was backed up as far as 46th Street with the busiest part of the commute yet to come.

That's because Monday marked the closure of northbound I-35W access to 11th Street, Grant Street and 5th Avenue, with an official detour sending drivers via the South 3rd Street exit near U.S. Bank Stadium.

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These closures will be in place until fall, while those hoping to get off I-35W earlier and take residential streets to downtown should be aware that the exit ramp to 31st Street off of I-35W northbound is also closed for four months.

Conditions were exacerbated on Monday morning because delays to weekend work meant that I-35W north was narrowed to just two lanes between 26th Street and I-94.

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A third lane should be opened up for the Tuesday commute to improve flow.

It's forcing downtown workers to take alternative routes such as Hiawatha Avenue and I-394, while Metro Transit has been laying on 40 percent more bus services to Minneapolis, and are also urging drivers to consider taking the light rail.

Bus-only lanes have also been opened up on Park and Portland Avenues during the rush hours, potentially causing more problems for drivers but helping anyone who's taking the bus in.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency meanwhile has been encouraging commuters to consider biking into downtown.

The closures will affect the afternoon commute as well, as the 12th Street and 4th Avenue entrances onto I-35W southbound are also closed for four months, while the exit from eastbound I-94 to southbound I-35W is closed until fall 2021.

This is all part of a major, $239 million rebuild of I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis, and it's not due to end until 2021.

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