The orange cones are gone for the most part. Officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation are reporting that their 2021 summer road construction season has wrapped up.  In total, work crews for the agency completed or advanced 161 road and bridge projects this past year.

That number comes in the face of two major events that impacted road construction work this summer:  the second year of COVID-19 and the extreme drought that affected most parts of the state. Even still, the work rolled on.  The agency shared:

"Despite the challenges of the pandemic and additional safety protocols - as well as some minor delays due to the drought and water restrictions - MNDOT crews and contractors worked tirelessly to complete most projects on-time and on-budget."


MNDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher offered her take on the 2021 season as it wraps up:

"This year's construction program delivered new bridges and smoother roads, and improved designs to create better connections and mobility for people walking and biking.  Several projects also addressed aging infrastructure to help rejuvenate main streets in communities across Minnesota.  The projects completed this year will help us achieve our long-term vision of a safer and more sustainable and equitable transportation system that serves all Minnesotans."

Even as the season officially wraps up, there are some work zones that are still active throughout the state.  MNDOT reminds drivers to always be alert and diligent; Kelliher continued:

"We are grateful to the crews, contractors, and suppliers who worked diligently to overcome supply chain challenges - and to all Minnesotans for their patience during road construction.  Some work zones around the state will remain active into November, so motorists should remain alert for crews and equipment.  Always slow down, move over to give workers room to safely work, and be courteous of other drivers in the work zone with you."

While those 261 projects represent the total number of work zones throughout the state - and each was important, the Northland was the recipient of some major attention throughout the summer.  In the metro, MNDOT worked on the 35-W at I-94 Downtown to Crosstown in Minneapolis, I-94 Maple Grove to Clearwater, Highway 14 Dodge Center to Owatonna, and the Highway 72 International Bridge in Baudette.

Road construction cones in Superior, WI
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

Closer to home, work continued on the multi-year rebuild of the Twin Ports Interchange Project (Can of Worms).  Drivers in the Northland can easily see and follow the progress made - with some major traffic impacts still in place.  While work will continue on through the season in that work zone, all major impacts are done for the year now that southbound I-35 has shifted to Lower Michigan Street and northbound I-35 has shifted over to the newly-constructed southbound lanes.  This configuration will remain in place through the rest of next year as well.

Here are some other major road construction projects that were accomplished in MNDOT's District 1 (northeastern Minnesota):

For a complete look at all of the road construction projects completes throughout the State of Minnesota, visit the home page of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

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

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