Weather Forecast


As other see it: Orange cone season: Prepared, we'll make it

The Minnesota Department of Transportation's John Bray refuses to sugarcoat what's coming.

"There will be significant traffic issues" related to the reconstruction and rehabilitation over the next two summers of Duluth's entire stretch of Interstate 35, Bray said in an interview last week with the News Tribune Opinion page.

He could have been far more blunt: For tourists and locals alike, the $70 million project -- which will narrow interstate traffic to a single lane during some of the busiest travel months of the year -- promises to be a major pain in the asphalt.

But there are things motorists, business owners and others can do to make sure construction isn't any more of a hardship than will be absolutely necessary.

They can pay attention. For the first time in Duluth, Bray said, this construction project will feature light-emitting diode, or LED, signs to inform travelers of expected drive times into downtown and to other destinations. During times of great delay, motorists can opt to exit and find alternate routes.

They can be smart. "Our motto for this whole project is that local drivers should use local roads," Bray said. "All of us who live here know how to get around. We can go anyplace without having to use the freeway. And we should use the local roads during this project."

And they can get educated. MnDOT has brochures all over town, including in the lobby of the News Tribune, chock full of details about the project and its impacts and potential for travel delays.

The department also has a Web site -- ...

"The site will be updated on a real-time basis -- like, all the time," Bray promised. "That's going to be our main communication tool."

And a good one.

No, it won't be pleasant. Orange Cone Season never is. ...

No matter how long the work lasts, motorists and others owe it to themselves to stay informed, to log on, and to find out what's happening, when and where. Stuck in a traffic jam, crawling for hours along the interstate, will be no time to wonder about lane closures and other construction impacts. We can plan ahead instead. ...

Duluth News Tribune