Ready for the 4-year-long makeover of I-35W in Minneapolis?

Stage one of the project in Minneapolis kicks off next week.

About a year from now, you'll look back on the construction that's happening in the Twin Cities this summer and remember happier times.

That's because major I-35W construction is coming. The Minnesota Department of Transportation has big plans for the stretch of interstate between downtown and 43rd Street.

The $265 million makeover includes adding new exit ramps and extending MnPASS lanes, rehabbing pavement, bridges, and noise barriers, and building a new transit station at the Lake Street interchange.

MnDOT created a video of its vision for the end game:

The department says the work will improve bus service on I-35W and Lake Street, provide better access into the Lake Street business district, and improve the accessibility, safety and mobility of the interstate.

Lovely. Except that it'll take four years to get there. 

Yep, MnDOT says the project won't be finished until the fall of 2021. That's after the next presidential election. 

Which means four years of dealing with construction and lane closures in south Minneapolis.

It all starts Aug. 21

There will be five stages of the reconstruction project. Stage one kicks off on Monday and will last for eight months.

This first part won't be too bad, because I-35W, I-94, and Hwy 65 will remain open to all lanes. But we'll get the first round of multiple ramp and bridge closures, including at Franklin and Portland avenues – check here for details.

It looks like the worst of it won't start until next summer during stage two, when access to downtown just north of I-94 as well as the ramp to westbound I-94 will be closed from May to October 2018.

Then in the spring of 2018 – after the Super Bowl – I-35W access to downtown Minneapolis via Highway 65 will be totally closed, diverting vehicles and buses to neighborhood streets.

Scott Pedersen, MnDOT's project manager told WCCO 11 neighborhoods will be directly impacted by the reconstruction. That's why MnDOT staff have been raising awareness about it and requesting feedback from neighbors. 

The department's next community meeting will be held on Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Hope Community, Inc./Children's Village Center building in Minneapolis.

Find more details about the project here.

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