Rochester, MN (KROC AM News ) - Rochester area motorists are noticing something rare.

The Minnesota Transportation Department Monday began operating a traffic ramp meter on the northbound Highway 63 entrance loop to northbound Highway 52 in south Rochester. MNDOT says this is believed to be the first time such a meter has been used outside the Twin Cities area, where they are common. The meter has been activated a week before a significant MNDOT project begins that will affect traffic.

The department will replace the Highway 52 bridges that cross Highway 63 during this year’s construction season. A new acceleration lane will also be added for traffic taking northbound Highway 52. Work on the project is scheduled to begin next Monday.

MNDOT has also activated message signs that give drivers estimated times to the Highway 52/63 interchange and the 2nd Street SW interchange. One of the signs is on northbound Highway 52 near the Olmsted County Road 1 interchange. The other is on northbound Highway 63 just south of the 48th Street interchange.