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Low gas prices but lots of construction for Labor Day weekend travel

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More than 30 million people are expected to hit the road for an end-of-summer getaway this weekend, and motorists will be happy to find gas prices are close to a dollar cheaper than Labor Day weekend last year, AAA says.

The national average for a gallon of gas was $2.44 Thursday – that's 99 cents per gallon less than 2014, which means the average driver is paying about $15-$25 less to fill up their tank this weekend, AAA's Fuel Gauge Report says.

Minnesotans are paying slightly less than the national average. On Thursday, the average price for a gallon was $2.42 – it cost $3.33 a gallon this time last year, AAA notes.

And those lower gas prices should be welcome news for Minnesotans planning to travel by car for the holiday weekend.

Construction projects to watch out for

Summer may be ending, but there are still a few more weeks of road construction season left. That has the Minnesota Department of Transportation warning motorists that there will be major traffic impacts this weekend due to ongoing projects.

“Most projects will shut down over the holiday weekend, but there are still many work zones around the state that will affect travel,” MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle said in a news release. “We ask drivers to pay attention in work zones and make it a safe weekend for everyone."

Here's a look at some of the construction projects that may affect travel this weekend:

In the Twin Cities:

  • Interstate 494 in Plymouth has multiple lane and ramp closures.
  • Interstate 35E in St. Paul and Little Canada has lane and ramp closures.
  • Highway 5 between St. Paul and Highway 55 has lane and ramp closures.
  • Highway 5 between Waconia and Victoria is closed, with a detour in place.
  • Highway 100 in St. Louis Park has ramp closures and a lane shift.
  • Highway 169 in Jordan has single-lane traffic in both directions.

In central Minnesota:

  • I-94 between Rogers and St. Michael has a lane shift, narrow lanes and reduced speeds – expect delays.
  • Highway 169 along Lake Mille Lacs has bypass lanes, which could result in minor traffic delays.
  • Highway 25 at Highway 12 east of Montrose is closed, with a detour in place.
  • Highway 12 between Atwater and Litchfield also has a detour.

In northern Minnesota:

  • Highway 29 in Alexandria has lane closures and lane shifts near I-94, which could make delays possible.
  • Highway 2 between Cass Lake and Ball Club has lane shifts, flagging activities, expect some delays.
  • Highway 371 between Cass Lake and Walker has lane closures, some delays possible.
  • Highway 10 in Detroit Lakes has single-lane traffic in both directions, expect delays.
  • Highway 2 (Bong Bridge) between Duluth and Superior – the eastbound lanes are closed.
  • Highway 23 between Duluth and Duquette is a single-lane, with a detour in place.

In southern Minnesota:

  • I-35 from Owatonna to Albert Line has single-lane traffic in both directions, expect traffic to move slowly.
  • Interstate 90 between St. Charles and Stewartville has single-lane traffic in both directions, expect slow traffic.
  • Highway 14 between Nicollet and Mankato has a detour in place.
  • Highway 59 in Marshall has a short detour.

Summer-like weather for Labor Day weekend

The unofficial end of summer is this weekend, and with that, the summer-like weather will end.

Warm and humid conditions are expected to continue through Sunday for much of Minnesota, the National Weather Service notes, but a taste of fall will arrive next week.

A cold front will approach the area Saturday night, which brings a chance for strong thunderstorms and prolonged periods of rain into Sunday, the weather service says.

Looking long-term: temperatures are expected to trend below normal toward the middle of September, MPR News' Updraft blog says.

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