By Anne Holzman
Minnesota Department of Transportation officials recently briefed the Lauderdale city council on plans for major construction of a segment of I-35W in coming years.
Although 35W does not border Lauderdale, it is close enough that MnDOT is including the city in community outreach efforts to inform the public about its future construction plans for that segment of freeway.
At the council’s Jan. 25 meeting, council members asked about preserving air quality, about proposed work on Highway 280 and if the road construction projects might happen at the same time, causing major disruptions in the city.
State officials stressed that none of their proposed projects for the Minneapolis-to-Roseville segment of 35W are currently funded. But they said they want to be ready to apply for funding as it becomes available, including money from the recently passed federal infrastructure bill.
MnDOT engineer Aaron Tag said his department expects that 47 bridges along 35W from downtown Minneapolis to County Highway C in Roseville will attract federal funding first. Many of the bridges need repair or replacement, according to MnDOT.
The most immediate road construction impact on Lauderdale would likely be shifts in the interchange at Highway 36 and Cleveland Avenue. A MnDOT map shows the current left exits, from 35W south onto Cleveland and from 36 westbound onto 35W, switched to right exits. This would accommodate the new EZPass lanes on 35W, which now extend into the northern suburbs.
Council Member Andi Moffatt asked how the separate project on Highway 280, including restrictions at the Broadway Street entrance, might “interplay” with the 35W plans. The Highway 280 project is associated with work on Interstate 94.
Tag replied that there is no formal coordination but acknowledged the need to “keep an eye on that.”
Moffatt also asked whether there was any chance that road construction projects would happen all at once, causing major disruptions in Lauderdale.
Tag said that’s not likely, because MnDOT expects projects to be funded separately.
Council Member Jeff Dains asked whether the road plans give any consideration of preserving air quality.
Tag said that MnDOT officials have, in general, discussed that issue since traffic congestion causes pollution when vehicles stop and start or seek alternate routes on city streets to avoid tie-ups. He said that better access for buses via the EZPass lanes would help reduce pollution by encouraging transit use.
MnDOT officials said they expect to appear at future council meetings in the coming months as they finalize construction proposals. They hope to settle plans in fall 2022 and get started on environmental impact studies and other preparation for construction.
To view the Jan. 25 council meeting and MnDOT plans shown at the meeting, visit online at Nine North, the city’s web service, under Lauderdale city government meetings. https://webstreaming.ctv15.org/viewer.php?streamid=5428
Anne Holzman is a Twin Cities freelance writer who covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale government news for the Bugle.