I-494: Airport to Highway 169
What is the scope of the project?
MnDOT and its partners are working to plan and construct improvements on the I-494 corridor that travels through the cities of Bloomington, Richfield, Eden Prairie and Edina.
How is the project funded?
The corridor study and planning is being conducted and paid by MnDOT. In 2018, Corridors of Commerce, a state road improvement grant program, awarded the project $134 million to introduce MnPASS lanes from eastbound from France Avenue to Hwy 77 and westbound from Hwy 77 to I-35W. An additional $70 million was awarded to construct a directional ramp for northbound I-35W to westbound I-494 traffic.
What is the project's schedule?
The corridor study began in June 2018. The project study, alternative analysis, and environmental assessment is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. Final design and right-of-way acquisition to be completed by the end of 2021. Construction of Highway Expansion Project to take place between January 2022 and December 2023, with the possibility of some of the work being advanced to earlier years.
For additional project information, please visit the MnDOT project website.
MnDOT approves funding for I-35W and I-494 improvements
The 17th worst commute in the country is about to get better thanks to the State’s Corridors of Commerce program. MnDOT awarded $204 million toward I-35W and I-494 improvements across Bloomington, Edina and Richfield. The grant funds will be allocated as detailed below:
$70 Million - Complete Phase 1 of the I-494/I-35W turbine interchange, northbound to westbound directional ramp.
$134 Million – I-494 from France Avenue to Trunk Highway 77 eastbound and from Trunk Highway 77 to I-35W westbound, add MnPASS lanes in both directions.
This funding marks a key step in improving transportation infrastructure. The projects will ease congestion on the busiest intersection in Minnesota—one that serves 21 percent of the metro’s commuters as well as a high volume of state-to-state freight and vehicle traffic.
“These projects will ease frustration for hundreds of thousands of commuters and improve commerce for the region by updating an interchange that has been in dire need of improvement for many years,” Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead said. “Thank you to the Governor, MnDOT and Legislators who helped make funding for Corridors of Commerce possible.”
A number of governmental agencies and civic organizations worked diligently for years to help provide awareness and funding for these projects, including: State Legislators along the I-494 and I-35W corridor, numerous Chambers of Commerce, the I-494 Corridor Commission, the 35W Solutions Alliance, the Cities of Richfield, Edina, Bloomington and Eden Prairie, and Hennepin County. Construction could start as early as 2021.
Much needed interchange improvement
The 35W/494 interchange is one of the most congested, unsafe interchanges in the State of Minnesota. It was designed in the 1950's, constructed in the early 1960's, with very few modifications or improvements since that time.
The interchange is congested well over 30% of each and every day, carrying nearly 500,000 vehicles daily through the now over-capacity interchange, with many vehicle crashes occurring in and around the area.
The 2001 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) recommendation totally redesigned the interchange. The 2001 FEIS preferred alternative involved a multi-level interchange at a cost of close to $300 million. The design was also difficult to construct in a performance-based, phased approach.
These resources are found on MnDOT's I-494 and I-35W project Web page.
The MnDOT 2009 Rescoping Project is a very welcome new approach to the interchange design. The performance-based design process, now endorsed by the Federal Highway Administration and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, is very much needed in these fiscally-constrained times.
The Rescoping Project recommended a "turbine interchange" concept layout as shown above. The turbine design has the project advantage of the ability to be constructed in phases. This phased approach has a much higher possibility of being funded by federal, state, regional, and local agencies. The turbine design is projected to be completed for $237.6 million versus the $270.6 million cost for the 2001 preferred alternative. The 2001 preferred alternative, besides the additional cost, could not be done without a substantial amount of reconstructed sections if completed in phases.
Phase I of the 35W/494 interchange improvement could be constructed for $34.5 million (construction cost only). It would cost $75 million for the Phase I interchange project that would include a bus rapid transit station with a park and ride ramp. This is an important project for the Metro Area, both for traffic and development potential.