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Pick a lane: Driving I-694 in Shoreview means choosing one lane for several miles
Commuters will have to hang on for one more summer before Interstate 694 frees up completely between Arden Hills and Vadnais Heights.
Road construction crews are taking advantage of the warmer months to work on round two of the $42 million Enhance I-694 project, which focuses on the eastbound side of the interstate, and is slated to last throughout this road construction season, until about November.
The first part of the project began last summer when crews added a third lane to the westbound side of I-694, between Lexington Avenue and I-35E. Now in its final stage, the same is being done heading east.
Workers initiated this part of the project last week by preparing both directions of the interstate to carry two lanes of traffic for the next several months.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, traffic flow heading west was reduced to two lanes April 11 and the ramp from Rice Street to westbound I-694 was closed and will be detoured for the remainder of the construction season.
Eastbound travelers are being moved into two lanes of traffic this week.
Like last year on the westbound side, this summer the two eastbound lanes will be divided by a
oncrete median barrier.
“When traveling eastbound, you will need to choose a lane at the beginning of the work zone,” an April 10 statement released by MnDOT explains. “If you use the left lane you will be unable to exit the interstate between Lexington Avenue and I-35E. Drivers in the right lane will be able to exit the freeway as usual.”
The left lane will be designated for through traffic — drivers who wish to continue at least five miles — and the right lane will be intended for drivers seeking access to local exits.
For example, if a motorist wishes to exit at Lexington Avenue or Rice or Victoria streets, he or she will need to stay in or safely merge to the right lane before the two lanes divide.
Drivers who stay in the left lane will not be able to leave the freeway or make a route correction until coming to I-35E, according to MnDOT.
“When complete in November of 2017, the project will improve driver safety and accessibility, increase capacity to lessen congestion and provide smoother road surfaces,” MnDOT says on its project website. “In addition, the new roadway will enhance the movement of freight and support economic development.”
For more information about the project go to www.dot.state.mn.us/enhance694.
Jesse Poole can be reached at email@example.com or at 651-748-7815.