Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Cruisin' on the Gold Coast Autobahn

Commuting on the new, three-lane Pawlenty Highway, a.k.a., the Gold Coast Autobahn, is a real pleasure. After years of fighting or avoiding I-494's constipated rush hour traffic flow between Eden Prairie and Plymouth, commuters are enjoying all-day excess capacity (capacity was increased by 50% in both directions), now that Governor Tim Pawlenty's MnDOT has put the "free" back into "freeway." According to MnDOT:
The $137.5 million project took about two years to complete, removing and replacing the existing freeway lanes and adding a new lane in each direction along nearly eight miles of I-494 through Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and Plymouth. Crews also widened 14 bridges that cross the freeway or its cross streets so that at some point in the future MnDOT can more easily add an additional travel lane. Both the interchanges at Hwy 62 and Hwy 7 we completely rebuilt and about four miles of soundwall were constructed at various locations along the corridor. A merge lane was also completed along eastbound I-394 to clear up the nightly congestion that used to occur as traffic tried to go east from northbound I-494.
Finally, the Lexus SUVs from Plymouth, the Porsche Caynnes from Wayzata, the GMC Denalis from Minnetonka, and the occasional Eden Prairie Land Rover can accomplish their suburb-to-suburb commutes in record time. And time is the most precious commodity that this construction project has given to suburban commuters. We're even getting better fuel economy with less emissions, thanks to the elimination of idling in traffic or at stop lights on neighborhood surface streets.

Freeways are the best way to move people and commerce through the metro, 24/7 (there are no FedEx cars on a light rail train). This is just what we needed.

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