Any way you look at it, it'll be a very busy summer season for the Minnesota Department of Transportation and road construction across the state.  MNDOT has just announced the full slate of what they have scheduled for the 2022 season, and it's quite impressive.

The transportation agency has more than 230 road construction projects on the schedule for this summer - all with the ultimate goal of "maintain[ing] Minnesota's roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure; improv[ing] safety and mobility; and support[ing] jobs".  Included in the 230 work zones are 184 road and bridge projects, along with 51 multimodal projects that will improve airports, water ports, and transit infrastructure.

While its human nature for drivers to greet the upcoming orange cones along their routes with trepidation, the ultimate end results are worth it in the long run.  And - for their part - the Minnesota Department of Transportation is excited to present the road construction in that manner.   MNDOT Interim Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger explains:

"Minnesotans will soon see work zones popping up throughout the state.  Each of these projects represents an investment in a more efficient and reliable transportation system for all people.  As always, safety is MNDOT's top priority - so we urge motorists to pay attention to signage in work zones, slow down, and put away distractions behind the wheel.  Everyone, including our hardworking road and construction workers, deserves to get home safely."

The full list of those 230 projects is pretty impressive.   You can get the full details with the listings that are available on the Minnesota Department of Transportation's website.

Road construction on Garfield Avenue in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

As far as what drivers in the Northland can expect, MNDOT says that there will be some "significant" projects in District 1 (the district that includes the Twin Ports, Iron Range, and the North Shore). Here's an overview:

  • Twin Ports Interchange:  While this isn't a new project for MNDOT, the multi-year work on one of Duluth's most-used intersection will continue this summer.  When finished, the new intersection that will replace the old "Can of Worms" will "enhance safety by eliminating blind merges and left exits", replace aging infrastructure, and improve freight mobility.
  • Highway 194/Highway 53/Midway Road:  This project in Hermantown will bring new pavement for Highway 194, a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 194 and Midway Road, and construction of the RCI at the intersection of Highway 194 and Highway 53.
  • Highway 61 Bridge Projects (North Shore):  The ongoing work will continue for MNDOT this summer at the Stewart River.  Rehabilitation of the historic bridge there will finish up. Meanwhile the department will install new bike and pedestrian crossings, construct a new bridge, lay new pavement, and install a turn lane at Betty's Pies.  Meanwhile at the Silver Creek Bridge, that project will continue with the construction of a new bridge, stream restoration, and new pavement.
  • Highway 65: This work - located in Itasca and Koochiching counties - will bring improvements to a 43-mile stretch of road.  Highway 65 will be repaved, have guardrails installed, erosion control will be implemented, rumble strips will be installed, and a variety of frost heave problem areas will be corrected.
  • Highway 1:  MNDOT will work on pavement reclamation for a 17 mile stretch from Effie to Deer Lake.

MNDOT also lists a variety of other, smaller-scale road construction projects for District 1.  Click here to see the complete list for District 1 that they offer on  their website.

Road construction on Garfield Avenue in Duluth, MN
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Because it looks to be a very busy summer road construction season, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is urging drivers to use common sense and safety considerations when on the highways this summer.  Motorists can anticipate encountering changing road conditions when approaching work zones.  Common traffic changes include lane closures, lane shifts, uneven road surfaces, heavy equipment, and slow or stopped traffic.  Here are some specific safety tips they offer for work zones:

  • Obey posted speed limits.  Most road construction sites offer reduced speed limits.  Remember - the fine for speeding in a work zone is $300
  • Drive undistracted.  Put the cell phones and mobile devices away.  Avoid adjusting temperature controls or the radio until you are out of the work zone.  MNDOT even discourages eating while driving through a road construction project.
  • Move over
  • Know before you go. Prior to leaving for your road trip, check out the variety of real-time traffic and construction updates that the Minnesota Department of Transportation offers on their website.
  • Be patient. Drivers should always expect delays when driving through work zones.  Plan your routes and timing accordingly
  • Do the Zipper Merge
  • Avoid making unnecessary lane changes
  • Never enter a road that is blocked with barriers or cones

To get complete details about these or any of the road construction that the Minnesota Department of Transportation coordinates, visit their website.  You'll also find real-time traffic updates.

Road construction barrels
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Ways A Minnesota Summer Is Much Like Winter

It might not seem like it on the surface, but a Minnesota summer has a lot in common with a Minnesota winter. From a strictly meteorological standpoint, they are the polar opposites of each other. However, many common themes, elements, and principals thread their way through each of the seasons.

Some of the similarities involve the way we prep for each of the seasons. Other shared items involve rituals, chores, finances, and yes - even weather. (I know, you're thinking - how can the weather be the same in the summer and the winter; trust me - it can be - read on to find out how.)

One thing is for certain, though, as to how Minnesotans deal with summer and winter: True to our nature, we confront and embrace each of the seasons all at the same time.

CHECK THEM OUT: States With the Best and Worst Commutes

More From KOOL 101.7