MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesotans are headed for a heavy summer road construction season as state transportation officials try to take care of long-delayed projects.
The Department of Transportation announced an $849 million highway improvement plan that will likely tie up traffic in the Twin Cities region as well as parts of rural Minnesota.
Fifty-six projects in the Twin Cities region will cost $510 million, including one that for two months will cause major headaches on Interstate 35W through downtown Minneapolis.
In northeastern Minnesota, $19.6 million worth of work was planned for nearly 100 miles of Highway 61 along the North Shore of Lake Superior between Duluth and the Canadian border.
Transportation Commissioner Elwyn Tinklenberg said Wednesday that 252 projects statewide -- aided by $600 million in one-time money from the 2000 Legislature -- represent "a first step in a significant catch-up effort we need to make in Minnesota."
Work on some Twin Cities projects could begin as early as this weekend. Dick Stehr, the Transportation Department's metro-division engineer, described the prospects for summer travel as "painful" and said the next two summers may be even more disruptive.
The disentanglement of the interchange between Interstate 35W and Highway 62 was expected to shut down a stretch of Highway 62 along the Minneapolis-Richfield border beginning next year.
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