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Multimodal Project Improves Downtown Minneapolis Traffic Flow


High traffic volumes and economic growth along Interstate 94 (I-94) and Interstate 35W (I-35W) corridors had led to longstanding congestion, safety and flooding issues for the City of Minneapolis.

The City also had issues with local street connectivity within multiple neighborhoods on both sides of the I-35W freeway, requiring solutions to improve access while minimizing impacts to historically and socially sensitive areas.


Hennepin County’s goal for the project was to study alternatives to improve safety, reduce congestion and enhance freeway and local access to transit into and out of downtown Minneapolis. On behalf of the County, SEH led a large, multidisciplinary team through conceptual and preliminary design for the I-35W corridor from 42nd Street to the I-94 commons.

The SEH team developed conceptual layouts for the reconstruction of the I-35W and I-94 interchange, as well as location and concept design for a transit station to meet the needs of future Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service on I-35W and east/west arterial streets within the project area.

The existing storm water tunnel had insufficient capacity causing flooding in low spots during large rainfall events. To address this, the team constructed large retention chambers to capture stormwater and release it back through the existing tunnel to the Mississippi River over a longer period.

To alleviate concerns the freeway would negatively affect traffic and visual components of historically significant properties along the project, the team closely coordinated with property owners and the State Historic Preservation Officer to identify design changes that would minimize impacts.  Improvements included shifting the freeway alignment to the west, narrowing freeway lanes, and isolating 2nd Avenue from the northbound exit to 31st Street to reduce traffic flow.

The $250 million multimodal project reconfigured the system interchange at I-35W/I-94 and included an online transit station at Lake Street proximate, the addition of managed lanes, new freeway exit ramps, 15 bridge replacements and a pedestrian/bicycle connection to the Midtown Greenway.

Project Name
35W@94: Downtown to Crosstown 

Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Hennepin County


  • Improved freeway operations with more effective system interchange connections between I-35W and I-94
  • Additional access to local business and residential areas from northbound I-35W to 28th and southbound I-35W to Lake Street
  • Improved accessibility and user security through 24th Street pedestrian bridge replacement
  • Online transit station at Lake Street, a local landmark, serves as a primary hub for the Orange Line to provide a safe, efficient transit connection
  • Widened portals under the freeway at Lake Street and 31st St for better visibility and security
  • Additional EZ Pass Lanes provide congestion-free travel option
  • Walkable and bikeable connection from the Lake Street Transit Station to the Midtown Greenway improves access to local streets
  • Constructed noise walls where appropriate and supported by the neighborhood 


  • Civil engineering
  • Highway design
  • Traffic engineering
  • Transportation planning
  • Structural engineering
  • Public involvement
  • Landscape design
  • Storm sewer design
  • Lighting design 
  • Environmental documentation
  • Environmental site assessment
  • Geotechnical engineering
  • Architecture
  • Survey