MnDOT Already Considering Changes To This Bridge Just Three Years After It Opened
Get ready to see more orange barrels. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is already considering changes to this busy Minnesota bridge-- just three years after it opened. And THAT was after a grueling four-year reconstruction project.
I'm talking about the Lafayette Bridge, where Highway-52 spans the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul. If you've driven north on the bridge since 2015, when the new Lafayette Bridge officially opened, you know that it can get pretty congested-- even outside typical Twin Cities drive times.
According to this Star Tribune story, much of the congestion is a result of two things: the sudden drop to 25 miles an hour (after cruising along at highway speeds); and a rather counterintuitive off-ramp layout.
For instance, if you're heading north over the bridge and want to head WEST (or left) on I-94 (towards Minneapolis), you have to take the far RIGHT lane. Meanwhile, if you want to head EAST (or right) on I-94 (toward Woodbury), you have to take the far LEFT lane. Which seems completely backward if you ask me.
And to others, too, apparently. The story stays MnDOT realizes the layout is confusing and is considering several changes-- from construction a new westbound off-ramp to adding an extra lane and/or designated exit.
But those changes-- once MnDOT settles on one-- wouldn't be 'addressed' until 2020 or 2021. Which makes me wonder just how it was that the current, confusing configuration was initially approved by MnDOT. Wouldn't ANYONE on the MnDOT staff in St. Paul have thought there might be a better way to engineer things?
I've driven that interchange enough to know which lane to get it, but it is still somewhat confusing-- and congested. You'd think that MnDOT would have anticipated that before spending four years to reconstruct the bridge, only to change it three years later wouldn't you?!?