Major freeway construction to start soon

The Wheelock Parkway bridge over Interstate 35E will be demolished the weekend of Feb. 28 as part of the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s MnPass project. (Patrick Larkin/Review)

A map of the detour route during the Wheelock Parkway and Arlington Avenue bridge demolitions suggests that drivers take Interstate 694 to Interstate 94. (submitted graphic)

24-hour construction will occur

City officials have announced MnPass construction on I-35E in St. Paul could start as soon as Thursday, Feb. 20, pending permit approval by St. Paul City Council.

The MnPass project will widen I-35E and add lanes along the freeway, primarily to reduce congestion for suburbanites commuting to downtown St. Paul from the north suburbs.

The construction will interrupt roadways leading into the East Side -- four bridges including the Gateway Trail bridge will be demolished. All but the Gateway Trail bridge will be replaced.

Ames Construction, the company tasked with the project, applied for a sound level variance through the city to allow for 24 hour per day construction starting on the 20th that would last until Nov. 1. The permit would allow for overnight work on bridge demolition, bridge construction, ramp work, sound wall construction, and the addition of High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.

The demolition of two freeway bridges -- Arlington Avenue and Wheelock Parkway -- is scheduled to begin Friday, Feb. 28.

As a result, both directions of I-35E between I-94 and Hwy 36 are scheduled to close from 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 until 5 a.m. Monday, March 3 for the work.

The replacement of the two bridges is projected to be completed in April.

Once those two bridges are done, two other bridges -- Larpenteur Avenue and the Gateway Trail -- are slotted for demolition beginning Friday, May 9.

Elevated noise

With the excessive noise of bridge demolition, the Department of Safety and Inspections is recommending that residents within 400 feet of a bridge demolition site be notified by the contractor at least 48 hours before the start of any bridge demolition.

DSI is also recommending that Ames Construction be granted up to thirty overnight elevated noise shifts, for overnight work that is expected to create excessive noise. A 48 hour notice for nearby residents would be required.

The overnight excessive noise shifts will need city council approval, to be voted on Wednesday, Feb. 19.

The elevated noise permits started relatively recently with Central Corridor LRT construction, said Peter Kishel, environmental health specialist in the city’s Department of Safety and Inspections.

Kishel said that the notifications that come with the noise permits “eliminated a lot of complaints” about noise. This way, “they get a little warning... instead of all all of the sudden there’s this noise going on at night,” he said.

Nearby businesses

All of the businesses near the bridge demolition work will remain open and accessible during the construction process.

Dan O’Rourke, manager at Parkway Liquors, which lies just east of Wheelock Parkway, said the business was up to speed on the construction plans.

Overall the business has “been satisfied with the communication” from MnDOT.

While in the short term, it’s an inconvenience for the business, they should be able to weather it just fine, he said.

Plus, “it will be nice to have brand new bridges,” he said.

Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.

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