ST. PAUL, Minn. — As the Fourth of July holiday approaches and motorists from every corner of the state flock to their favorite destinations, the Minnesota Department of Transportation urges extra caution while driving through highway work zones. Motorists traveling in and around the Duluth area especially need to be cautious as crews continue to clean up from last week’s floods.
"As is the case every year, there will be work zones scattered around the state this summer and into the fall, including some affecting the state’s busiest highways and interstates,” said Mike Barnes, director of the department’s District Operations Division. “MnDOT urges motorists to drive with caution in work zones and plan their trips using the 511 travel information service."
By visiting www.511mn.org or calling 5-1-1, motorists can plan their trips with the latest statewide traffic, construction, weather and travel information.
While the department will suspend work on many projects during the Fourth of July holiday, motorists may still encounter detours and traffic restrictions as well as rough road surfaces and narrowed traffic lanes on heavily traveled routes, including:
Twin Cities Metro area
- Highway 169/Interstate 494 – Bloomington, Edina and Eden Prairie www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/169/.
· I-694 – Arden Hills and New Brighton
· I-694 – Oakdale, Mahtomedi, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake and Maplewood www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/i694maplewood/.
- Highway 169 – Grand Rapids www.dot.state.mn.us/d1/projects/Hwy169poke/index.html.
- I-94 – east of Moorhead at Buffalo River bridges www.dot.state.mn.us/d4/newsrels/12/05/03i94bridge.html.
- Hwy 53 – Cotton
- I-35 – south of Duluth to White Bear Lake www.dot.state.mn.us/d1/projects/i35southofduluth/.
- Highway 23 – St. Cloud to Foley
- Highway 10 – Clear Lake to Big Lake www.dot.state.mn.us/d3/newsrels/12/Hwy10clearlaketobiglake.pdf
- Highway 61 – East Indian Creek near Weaver in Wabasha County
- Highway 14 – North Mankato
- Highway 60 – Worthington to Bigelow
“While there won’t be much construction activity during the July Fourth holiday, drivers should still watch for equipment, traffic changes and any highway workers who may be present in the work zones,” Barnes said. “We know work zones are challenging at times, but these temporary inconveniences will significantly improve the quality and safety of the state highway system for years to come.”
Holiday travel traditionally leads to more traffic on highways across the state, which can lead to an increase in crashes and traffic fatalities. Minnesota’s Toward Zero Deaths initiative, a multi-agency partnership, uses the “four E’s”—enforcement, education, engineering and emergency medical and trauma services—to improve safety and reduce fatalities and serious injuries.
“TZD’s goal is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities on Minnesota roads to fewer than 350 by 2014,” said Sue Groth, MnDOT state traffic engineer and TZD co-chair. “Since 2003, the initiative has achieved a 44 percent reduction in fatalities (from 655 to 368). We encourage motorists to buckle up and drive safely over the holiday.”
Highway travelers in need of a place to stop and rest can visit MnDOT’s new mobile-friendly rest areas website at www.mndot.gov/restareas/; the site is accessible via Smart Phone. Travelers can preview the amenities at a particular rest area to see if the facility has accessible restrooms, picnic shelters, interpretive information or even a pet exercise area for their dog.
For the duration of the Fourth of July holiday and the remainder of the construction season, MnDOT urges drivers to:
- Follow posted speed limits; fines double in work zones when workers are present.
- Allow extra space between vehicles.
- Avoid using cell phones while driving.