I-94 by Lowry Tunnel is going to stink this summer

Detour signs mark the start of another construction project around the Lowry Tunnel.
William Lager | MPR News

Dear MnDOT, I tried.

I tried to understand everything that will be happening this summer on Interstate 94 in Minneapolis around the Lowry Tunnel.

I read through all the Minnesota Department of Transportation press releases and examined all the diagrams.

I read the information put out Monday about the immediate hassles coming:

There will be a weekend closure of eastbound I-94, between I-394 and I-35W, starting at 10 p.m. on Friday, June 23 through 5 a.m. on Monday, June 26.

The detour for the closure uses westbound I-394, southbound Highway 100 and eastbound Hwy 62. Westbound I-94 will remain open.

The partial weekend closure is occurring during Pride Festival in Loring Park and festivalgoers should consider other routes and ways of traveling to/from the festival. During the partial highway closure, crews will be setting up the Lowry Tunnel restrictions that begin on Monday, June 26.

From June 26 to early August, all motorists on I-94 will travel on the eastbound side of the tunnel while crews work in and around the other side.

Motorists will be restricted to two lanes in each direction through the tunnel. Reduced lane widths and speed limits will be in place.

Trucks weighing more than 9,000 pounds will be restricted from traveling in the tunnel and should use the posted truck detour.

and then I read the update:

Some last-minute changes have been made that will affect the I-94 Minneapolis to Brooklyn Center project and the Lowry Tunnel area.

The I-35W ramp to westbound I-94 will close very early Saturday morning.

The crews believe they can have the eastbound tunnel reconfigured and open by noon Sunday. Crews will be working 24 hour shifts to get the shifts made.

The westbound I-94 to west I-394 and Highway 55 to Eastbound 94 will close Saturday night.

My head hurts, a little.

I appreciate the videos. Miles and Sophia were great trying to help me work through it.

I’m just, I don’t know. I’m not sure I can do it.

Plus, you want me to zipper merge? As NewsCut Commander in Chief Bob Collins wrote nearly five years ago:

Listen to me, MnDOT, I get how the zipper merge is supposed to work, the problem is the people who don’t.

Last evening, for example, I was driving on I-694 in the Oakdale area where, because of construction, the highway narrows to one lane. Perhaps a mile from the merge point, an SUV — sporting a Marine sticker, an NRA sticker, and a Florida Gators decal, just in case that was someone you know — played the role that decent, civilized people dread — the merge cop.

He drove down the middle of the lane stripe, so nobody could pass him on the left or the right, though several people tried. And, thus, a bigger backup was born.

So yeah, MnDOT, we could use some help.

Let’s start with honesty. It will stink around the Lowry Tunnel this summer. We’re all gonna invent ways to try and get around it (anyone got a good workaround?).

Let’s also assume the tunnel will be backed up in both directions all the time and that driving 5 inches from the bumper in front of you is not a good strategy unless you’re into impromptu conversations with the State Patrol.

Traffic flowing smoothly in the calm before construction starts.
William Lager | MPR News