MINNEAPOLIS - The Franklin Avenue bridge over I-35W will close for nearly a year starting Monday.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the bridge will be closed Sept. 18 through summer 2018 as part of the major I-35W corridor project that will unfold over the next four years. The $239 million project will include completely replacing 11 bridges, refurbishing four others, repaving multiple lanes of freeway, adding MnPass lanes, and constructing a mass transit center.

MnDOT estimates that 15,000 cars pass over the bridge each day.

The detour for westbound motorists who usually use the Franklin Avenue Bridge will be Portland Avenue to 26th Street. The prescribed detour for those headed eastbound on Franklin is Nicollet Avenue to Park Avenue.

The Franklin Avenue Bridge reconstruction is part of a 4-year project to completely rebuild the I-35W corridor out of downtown Minneapolis.  

Pedestrians are asked to use the 24th Street pedestrian bridge.

A full detour map for the bridge closure is available online.

Bicycle buffer lanes

The four-block detour route, along 26th and 28th Streets, overlaps with a much larger ongoing bicycle lane separation project in Minneapolis.

The city has realigned the lanes on those thoroughfares between Hennepin and Hiawatha in an effort to more clearly delineate traffic lanes from bicycle lanes. Part of the roadway is dedicated to a small buffer lane.

"We stripe out a zone that we call a buffer area, and to further protect it we put a vertical post, a delineator, which really helps keep the cars in their space and the bikes in their space, and creates a nice amount of separation," Allan Klugman, a Minneapolis traffic engineer, told KARE.

But city crews haven't been able to fill all of the buffer lanes with vertical posts, also known as bollards. In some areas motorists encounter the buffer lanes and complain of being confuse about where to drive. Klugman acknowledged it can be disorienting to those who are encountering those narrow lanes for the first time.

"Give us a little more time and by the end of September we’ll be done with all the work," Klugman explained.

"Everything should settle down. It will be very clear where the cars will be and the bikes should be, and there should be separate spaces for both of them."