Ramp designs for new Interstate 35W-Lake Street hub discussed

WHITTIER — Preliminary designs for new access ramps linking Lake Street and Interstate 35W were unveiled at a recent open house to get feedback about the designs. 

The on- and off-ramps would allow drivers to access the northbound lanes of I-35W, and for drivers on southbound I-35W to access Lake Street, creating points of entry that officials have sought for  years. 

Hennepin County engineer Jim Grube, who is leading the three-year planning effort, said comments collected at the May 1 meeting will be taken into consideration as planners work to finalize their designs. 

But the ramps are about as close to the interstate as possible, he said. 

Previous plans to allow interstate access were resisted in part because they required a large number of easements. The current plans call for full or partial easements on around a dozen properties, including several vacant lots. 

Efforts to obtain rights of way will not begin until the project is approved. 

Officials say the plans are now estimated to cost around $150 to $160 million. While funding sources are still being identified, plans could take shape in the next two years. 

Project plans also call for a new, two-story transit station that would serve as a stop for a Bus Rapid Transit station, and for a bicycle-pedestrian connection to the Midtown Greenway. 

While the footprint for the transit station has been established, its design has now. The Midtown Greenway connection also remains in the planning stages. 

“There is a long way to go yet, but we’re trying to do is break down the project into chunks so everyone can understand what’s happening before we move forward,” Grube said. 

The next open house will likely be held in October, but regular updates are available at 35lake.com. 

— Drew Kerr