MnDOT pauses North Gateway plan for 35W

By Anne Holzman

A plan to add a paid lane to Highway 36 and reconfigure the interchange at Interstate 35W just north of Lauderdale is on hold pending further traffic studies.

 State highway officials ended the North Gateway study in 2023 with a report recommending a fresh study be done given the changing traffic patterns following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The North Gateway corridor comprises the roadway, bridges and interchanges of Interstate 35W from Park Avenue in Minneapolis to County Road C in Roseville.

The study began in 2018 with traffic patterns and projected growth at that time. According to the report published in 2023, “The study team realized that congestion, one of the primary needs of the corridor, was perhaps not growing as fast a predicted.”

The study also turned up more concern about bike and pedestrian access than officials had anticipated.

“Public engagement in the study area revealed the importance of accessibility, connectivity and comfort for those walking or bicycling on bridges,” the report notes.

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials told the Lauderdale City Council in January 2022 that the purpose of the study was to identify projects that should be ready to go when funding became available. The deteriorated condition of the 47 bridges in the study area would likely draw the quickest attention, they said, and they wanted any planned bridge work to accommodate long-range needs.

The plan was to propose a new layout that would handle more traffic. But by 2023, traffic patterns had changed enough to raise doubts about the projections on which the study was based.

Instead of moving forward to design and environmental review, MnDOT suspended the study and offered the report as a “framework” for future planning.

Built gradually during the 1960s and 1970s, the North Gateway area has been pieced together and could use an overhaul of visual design along with infrastructure updates, the report states.

MnDOT official Christina Perfetti told the Bugle in April that 35W is not due for repaving. “However, we have a number of bridges that are scheduled to have maintenance work done in 2031,” she said, including the Highway 36 bridge over 35W.

Asked about the connection with Highway 280, Perfetti said that while the North Gateway study doesn’t directly address that, MnDOT has resurfacing and bridge repair planned for 2026.

“The pavement on 280 is nearing the end of its service life and is due for repairs,” Perfetti said, adding, “MnDOT is still planning on making changes to the intersection of Broadway and 280 between 2026 and 2028.”

Interested readers can request a copy of the North Gateway report by email at Christina.Perfetti@state.mn.us. 

Anne Holzman is a Twin Cities freelance writer who covers Falcon Heights and Lauderdale government for the Bugle.

Map cutline: I-35W North Gateway study location map. Map from dot.state.mn.us.

Leave a Reply