Roseville previews interstate work, and how to cope with it

courtesy of Minnesota Department of Transportation • With four years of work on Interstate 35W from Roseville up to Blaine slated to begin in 2019, at its Dec. 4 meeting the Roseville City Council heard about ways the Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to mitigate the traffic issues created by the construction.

Following a construction season in which Roseville was free of major road projects, planning is already underway for the next big round of work, and how to deal with it.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is eyeing 2019 as the start of a four-year project to add MnPASS lanes to both sides of Interstate 35W north from Highway 36 in Roseville to Lexington Avenue in Blaine.

At its Dec. 4 meeting, the Roseville City Council gave its blessings to MnDOT for some work that will be done in the run up to the $200 million project, and had an early discussion about what the city might do to mitigate the traffic woes created by the work slated to happen on its interstate artery.

Public Works Director Marc Culver gave an overview of the planned work. The city gave its municipal consent for the I-35W project in October of 2016. 

Beyond adding MnPASS lanes, other spot improvements will be made to I-35W, including the addition of auxiliary lanes, merge lanes and noise walls, with a wall in Roseville on the east side of the interstate.

Culver said the most significant bit of the project that Roseville will see is the replacement of the interstate bridges, four in total, over County Road C. The bridges over County Road I in Arden Hills will also be replaced.


Mitigating circumstances

To deal with the construction on I-35W, Culver said MnDOT had worked with the city to identify places near the highway that could be improved in small ways to mitigate increases in traffic on local roads associated with the freeway project.

He said the department of transportation had learned from recent work in the west metro, including closures of Highway 169, how local roads were strained.

A half-dozen places were identified in Roseville for easy improvements, Culver said, with most in the area of County Road D between New Brighton Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue at the county road’s interchange with I-35W, in the northwest reaches of the city. 

There, traffic lights will be synced and timed to improve traffic flow, and additional turn lanes will be striped.

Culver also said a left turn signal will be added at Long Lake Road and County Road C for easier turns eastbound onto the county road. 

Due to federal rules, Culver pointed out, the improvements around the interstate work are required to be temporary. However, he said, some are so low impact with such high benefits — the additional turn signal, for instance — that they could be installed and forgotten.

Culver also mentioned a change planned for Arden Hills on Snelling Avenue that could affect traffic in Roseville. MnDOT is looking to close a median on Snelling at Hamline Avenue, which is known, as mentioned by council members, for the questionable driving that takes place there, including dangerous U-turns.


What the city can do

With MnDOT looking at improvements on County Road D and Snelling Avenue, council members Jason Etten and Lisa Laliberte said they were worried traffic diverted from I-35W might end up on Fairview Avenue, putting pressure on already congested intersections at County Road D and Lydia Avenue.

Both Fairview intersections are all-way stops and become backed up during rush hour. Culver said the city could look at striping additional turn lanes at the intersections, though council member Bob Willmus said that would put a pinch on bicycle and pedestrian movement in the area.

Council member Tammy McGehee said she was worried interstate construction would divert traffic into the southeast portion of the city, as well, and onto the already crowded Roselawn Avenue. She added that the city will likely become aware of more pressure points as construction begins.

Mayor Dan Roe said as the I-35W project comes closer, the city will have to strike a balance between easing congestion and permanently changing driving habits.

“Making something easier during a construction period makes something easier after a construction period,” he said, “and it becomes a new normal.”

Laliberte said she already hears plenty from residents who say congestion is a worsening problem right now, and that the city will have to get out ahead of the planned road work and make a strong push to let residents know what’s happening, and how to get around it.

Though the MnPASS project on I-35W north out of Roseville is more than a full year away, some work on the interstate south out of Roseville is a mere seven months off.

Starting in July, 2018, MnDOT will be repaving I-35W north from University Avenue in Minneapolis up to County Road C in Roseville.

The $17 million project is slated to include six weekend closures of the interstate and is planned to be completed by mid-August of next year.

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813.

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