4th Street South ramp to northbound I-35W

The proposed project is intended to relieve congestion on Washington Avenue South and reduce traffic diversion to the University Avenue/4th Street SE interchange, thus improving motor vehicle and transit access to northbound I-35W from downtown Minneapolis, and improving safety and operations for all transportation modes at the northbound I-35W ramps at Washington Avenue South and University Avenue/4th Street SE. These improvements will allow the region to capitalize on the new capacity of the recently replaced I-35W/Mississippi River Bridge and encourage economic growth and stability for the area.

The project consists of two distinct improvements:

  • Construction of a new ramp to northbound I-35W at 4th Street South
  • Construction of an auxiliary lane from University Avenue SE to the Stinson Blvd NE exit

The project team consists of Hennepin County, MnDOT and the City of Minneapolis, with Hennepin County serving as the lead development agency, and MnDOT as the lead construction agency.

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Proposed improvements

4th Street and I-35W interchange

The project includes the construction of a new entrance ramp from 4th Street South to northbound I-35W, including a new eastbound to northbound double left turn lane from 4th Street South. The new ramp will enter mainline I-35W into a modified lane accomplished by reducing the highway 55 entrance to northbound I-35W from two lanes to one, thus allowing the other lane to be used by traffic from the new I-35W entrance ramp from 4th Street South. The new construction on 4th Street South will connect to the roadway improvements to the east constructed for the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit project.

I-35W auxiliary lane

The project provides an auxiliary traffic lane from University Avenue SE to the Stinson Boulevard northeast exit. Auxiliary lanes are located at the outer edge of the roadway for use in speed change, lane weaving, maneuvering of entering and exiting traffic, truck climbing, and other purposes supplementary to through traffic. Auxiliary lanes generally extend from one entrance ramp to an exit ramp and allow drivers more decision time to make maneuvers onto or off of the freeway. In general terms, one can think of an auxiliary lane as a place that allows drivers to enter the freeway directly into a temporary lane and/or exit in a temporary lane with more decision time than a traditional ramp connection.

The auxiliary lane proposed for this project requires some pavement widening and as a result, retaining walls. Shoulder areas will be reduced due to right of way constraints. The additional lane improves the ability to provide, and does not preclude, a future managed lane on northbound I-35W such as a HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lane or MnPass lane.

The project proposes consolidation of northbound exit ramps directly connected to I-35W on the north end of the project. Today there are two ramps. The first northbound I-35W exit ramp on the north end of the project after crossing under the Hennepin Avenue bridge is the joint Stinson Boulevard/New Brighton Boulevard exit ramp. The second northbound 35W exit ramp after crossing under the Hennepin Avenue bridge is the Johnson Street NE exit ramp. To minimize impervious surface and reduce confusion in the area while accommodating adequate sightlines for the various existing exits, the project proposes removing approximately the first 2,700 feet of the first exit ramp and combining the remaining portion of the first exit ramp with the Johnson Street NE exit ramp. Under the proposed layout drivers would still have the ability to exit directly to Johnson Street, New Brighton Boulevard, or Stinson Boulevard.

Noise mitigation

During July, August, September and October 2013 voting was conducted per MnDOT policy for the six proposed noise walls. Based on the voting results, Noise Wall L, on the west side of I-35W between Broadway Street NE and Johnson Street NE, is the only noise wall that will be constructed as part of this project. Additional noise wall information can be found on MnDOT’s project page.

Timeline

The public hearing and municipal approval processes were completed in December of 2011. Extensive public involvement related to noise mitigation occurred in 2012 and 2013, and included mailings, public meetings, and door-knocking. The project letting is scheduled for March of 2014 with construction anticipated to start in the spring of 2014 and end in November of 2014. See MnDOT's project page for additional details related to construction.

Funding

The estimated cost of the project is $14.1 million. The project will be paid for by a combination of state and local funds.

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