I-94 EXPANSION: Extra lane to stretch from Rogers to St. Michael - KMSP-TV

I-94 EXPANSION: Extra lane to stretch from Rogers to St. Michael

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Photo by Joanna Etshokin Photo by Joanna Etshokin
ST. MICHAEL, Minn. (KMSP) -

After several bumps in the road, a major road project just northwest of the metro has gotten the green light -- and that could ease congestion for people heading up north to cabin country in a few years.

The $40-million project begins the first week of August and should last a couple of years as crews work to add extra lanes to the 2.5-mile stretch of Interstate 94 between Highway 101 in Rogers and Highway 241 in St. Michael.

The plan is to one extra lane in each direction in order to expand capacity and remove the bottleneck. Over the years, nearby cities, businesses and commuters have complained about unusually long delays during the peak of rush hour -- and during the summer months when people head to cabins.

The stretch of road typically takes about 20 minutes to pass through, but it can take 3 times as long on bad days. Additionally, there's concern that frustrated motorists will turn to alternate routes and avoid one of the most popular tourist corridors in the state.

"They are looking at -- literally -- thousands of hours saved in travel time per year just from that one small stretch," Steve Bot, St. Michael's city administrator, explained.

While it still remains to be seen how much actual travel time is saved upon the project's completion, getting started hasn't been easy. Businesses and area governments formed a group called "The 1-94 Coalition" and lobbied at the state Capitol, spending nearly 7 years working to convince lawmakers to fund the project.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to keep two lanes open in each direction during rush hour while the year-round project is in the works; however, I-94 will be reduced to one lane duriduring overnight hours.

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