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Interstate 35E / 35W Minnesota


Interstate 35 splits into Interstates 35E and 35W to serve St. Paul (east) and Minneapolis (west). The two split at Burnsville in the south suburbs, with I-35W leading north to Bloomington and Richfield and I-35E angling northeast through Apple Valley, Eagan and Mendota Heights.

I-35W includes a High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lane in both directions from the split with I-35E northward to the interchange with Minnesota 65 and Interstate 94 at Downtown Minneapolis. The freeway sees two east-west segments, one along side Minnesota 62 (Crosstown Highway) and another parallel to I-94 on the south side of the Minneapolis central business district.

Beyond the separation with I-94, Interstate 35W branches northeasterly, first crossing the Mississippi River on the St. Anthony Falls Bridge and then turning east to Roseville and the west end of Minnesota 36, a freeway extending east to Maplewood. North from there, I-35W straddles the New Brighton and Arden Hills city line to Mounds View and Shoreview. U.S. 10 briefly ties into the freeway along this stretch.

I-35W curves easterly again at Blaine to Lino Lakes. The freeway traverses an area of wetlands from Rice Lake Chain of Lakes Regional Park Preserve through to Peltier and Rondeau Lakes to recombine with Interstate 35E at a wye interchange in south Columbus.

Interstate 35E meanwhile continues the exit numbering system of I-35 through the St. Paul area. The freeway winds northward through Lilydale and across the Mississippi River to enter south Saint Paul at the Crosby Nature Area. An ess curve takes the freeway eastward onto a parkway section ahead of Downtown. The portion of I-35E between MN 5 and I-94 includes a truck prohibition (over 9,000 pounds) due to the parkway status of the route.

Once in Downtown St. Paul, Interstate 35E briefly commingles with Interstate 94 & U.S. 12-52 before again curving northward to Maplewood. A due north trajectory takes the route to Little Canada and a dog leg along side Interstate 694 to Vadnais Heights.

The remainder of I-35E travels northward to White Bear Lake, White Bear Township, North Oaks and Lino Lakes. A rural end point lies north of Centerville, with I-35W merging into I-35E from the left.

Collapse of Interstate 35W Mississippi River Bridge

The former northbound view of Interstate 35W across the former Mississippi River bridge. Photo taken 04/23/07.

The Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed during the peak traffic hours of August 1, 2007, near Downtown Minneapolis. Without any notice, the deck truss bridge (built in 1964, opened in 1967, 1907 feet long, 14 spans) plummeted into the waters of the Mississippi River some 64 feet below, sending drivers and their vehicles into the river in an instant.1 A total of 111 vehicles were on the portion of bridge that collapsed; 13 people died and 145 people were injured in the tragedy. Inadequate load capacity of the gusset plates (support elements along the under side of the bridge) failed, causing the bridge collapse to occur. An in depth report from the NTSB on the event is available here.

A $15-million contract to remove the bridge debris was awarded to Carl Bolander & Sons Co. on August 8, 2007. Crews used three cranes to lift the bridge deck segments for their move to a staging area for analysis by NTSB officials.

During this period without the crossing, commuters were directed on Interstate 94 and Minnesota 280 to circumvent the bridge area of Interstate 35W. MnDOT blocked Minnesota 280's intersections with County Road B, Broadway Street N.E., Walnut Street and Roselawn Avenue in an effort to temporarily upgrade all of Minnesota 280 into a full freeway (Minnesota 280 existed previously as a freeway halfway between Interstates 94 and 35W).

The replacement span opened well ahead of schedule on September 18, 2008 and carries ten overall lanes of traffic. Named the St. Anthony Falls Bridge, the span is 189 feet wide, 76 feet wider than the original span, and includes both full inside and outside shoulders.

Parallel/Historic U.S. Routes

Interstate 35W parallels historic U.S. 65 north from Burnsville to Downtown Minneapolis and old U.S. 8 from Minneapolis north to Columbus. Interstate 35E combines with U.S. 10 from Downtown St. Paul to Interstate 694 while paralleling U.S. 61 to the west from St. Paul north to Columbus.

Planned Improvements

Major reconstruction underway between spring 2013 and spring 2016 involves upgrading Interstate 35E between University Avenue (Exit 107C) in St. Paul and Little Canada Road (Exit 113) in Little Canada. Work involves expanding the freeway to eight overall lanes, with three general purpose lanes and a MnPass (HOT) lane in each direction. Construction replaces the bridges for I-35E over Pennsylvania Avenue, the Soo Line Railroad and Cayuga Street as part of a relocation of the freeway several hundred feet east. Work also includes removing the interchange with Pennsylvania Avenue and replacing it with a new folded-diamond interchange at Cayuga Street..3

Further north through the I-35E project area, the overpass for Maryland Avenue at Exit 109 was replaced during summer 2012. New bridges were constructed over the freeway at Arlington Avenue, Wheelock Parkway and Larpenteur Avenue (Exit 110A). The spans for I-35E above Roselawn Avenue and County Road B were also replaced. The full cloverleaf interchange at Minnesota 36 will receive certain modifications but otherwise remain the same. The I-35E overpasses above MN 36 however will be replaced. An unbonded concrete overlay was used for the new surface throughout the project area.3


Interstate 35E was the last Minneapolis-St. Paul area Interstate to be completed. Delays due to litigation and compromise pushed the final four mile segment of I-35E back to an opening on October 15, 1990, 19 years after work started. This stretch through the West Seventh area runs northeast from south St. Paul to Interstate 94 in Downtown.

I-35E through south St. Paul was first envisioned in 1920 and planned more formerly as a six-lane freeway known as the Pleasant Avenue corridor in 1955. Initial work on the route was halted in 1972, after only a year of progress. During that time, area residents formed a citizens group against the highway known as RIP-35E, for "Residents In Protest", complete with a tombstone symbol for the road. Their efforts led to political action at both city and state levels, resulting in an extensive reevaluation of the freeway plans.

A plan to construct a parkway in place of a high-speed freeway was nearly reached, when labor unions gave their input and swayed the opinions of public officials. The prior plan did not include a direct connection with I-94, but the new plan did. This resulted in a law suit filed by RIP-35E in March 1983 over the connection issue, which the group contended was sufficient using city streets to continue northward along I-35E beyond Downtown. A federal judge disagreed and ruled against RIP on February 9, 1984, allowing for the direction connection.

Some work resumed along the parkway section of I-35E in 1983 due to an out-of-court agreement. The end result of the RIP-35E group and other compromises is a four-lane parkway with a restriction against commercial trucks and a low 45 Mile Per Hour speed limit. Additionally median trees, shrubs and decorative lighting and fencing were incorporated into the landscaping and design of the roadway. Total cost of the parkway section of I-35E between the Mississippi River and I-94 was $68 million.2

Completion dates per Minnesota Official Highway Maps:

Interstate 35W

  • 1961 - I-35W was open from a point north of Minnesota 13 at Burnsville to the Lyndale Connector (then U.S. 65).
  • 1965 - I-35W under construction southward from MN 13 to I-35 at Burnsville and northward from the Lyndale Connector to Lake Street.
  • 1968 - open from Burnsville (I-35) north to I-94 and Downtown Minneapolis and from Minnesota 208 (Exit 23A) north to County Road H (Exit 28C) at Mounds View.
  • Fall 1968 - I-35W extended north from Mounds View to Lake Drive (then U.S. 8) at Lino Lakes. I-35E and I-94 side by side section through Downtown Minneapolis also completed.
  • 1969 - Mississippi River Bridge north of Downtown Minneapolis.
  • 1970 - Interstate 35W complete between Lake Drive in Lino Lakes to I-35 at Columbus.
  • 1973 - I-35W extended south from the Mississippi River Bridge to I-94 and north to Hennepin Avenue (Exit 19). The north section of I-35W opened west to New Brighton Boulevard (then U.S. 8) and cosigned as Minnesota 36.
  • 1976 - Interstate 35W completed overall with the section between Hennepin Avenue and New Brighton Boulevard opened. The interchange along this segment with I-335 dropped as the route was canceled.

Interstate 35E

  • By 1964 - the first stretch of I-35E is open from Maryland Avenue north to I-694 west at Little Canada.
  • 1965 - I-35E is under construction from MN 110 to MN 5 and from Maryland Avenue south to Downtown St. Paul and from the Lino Lakes south city northward.
  • 1968 - open from Interstate 494 at Mendota Heights to Minnesota 5 (7th Street) in south St. Paul and between Downtown St. Paul (I-94) to Interstate 695 at Little Canada
  • 1971 - I-35E north from I-694 and Vadnais Heights to I-35W at Columbus.
  • By 1983 Interstate 35E was open from Burnsville north to Minnesota 77 at Eagan, with the portion north from there to Minnesota 110 at Mendota Heights under construction.

History of Split Routes

In their guidelines of signing Interstates, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) mandated that all suffixed Interstate highways be removed from the Interstate system in the late 1960s and 1970s. This resulted in many changes to the system, including:

  • Interstate 5W to I-505 and I-580 (Oakland to south of Tracy) in California
  • Interstate 15E to I-215 in California (former U.S. 395)
  • Interstate 15W to the Western Interstate 86 in Idaho
  • Interstate 35 to I-135 in Kansas
  • Interstate 70N to I-70 and Interstate 70S to I-270 in Maryland
  • Interstate 75E to I-75 in the Tampa Bay Area (original I-75 was renumbered I-275)
  • Interstate 80N to I-680 in Iowa
  • Interstate 80N to the Western I-84 in Oregon, Idaho, and Utah
  • Interstate 80S to I-76 in Colorado
  • Interstate 80S to I-76 in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey
  • Interstate 81E to I-380 in Pennsylvania

Most of these conversions were completed during the 1960s and 1970s. The Western Interstate 84 was among the last, as it was converted by 1980. However, there were two exceptions remaining in the system: Interstate 35 splits twice into Interstate 35E and Interstate 35W, once in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area and again in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. The reason these split routes still remain is that neither city wanted to relinquish the routing of Interstate 35. AASHTO gave in to these demands, and the split suffixed routing remains in both Texas and Minnesota.

A new set of split routes appeared in 2013 when Interstates 69C and 69E were established in South Texas by an act of Congress. The circumvented the authority of AASHTO and the mandate that no new suffixed routes be designated. Interstate 69W was established a year later.

Southern Terminus - Interstate 35 - Burnsville, Minnesota
Perspective from Interstate 35W south
The final exit along Interstate 35W is Exit 1, Junction Dakota County Route 42/Crystal Lake Road in Burnsville. Photo taken 04/21/07.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 35E pass over the southbound lanes of Interstate 35W. A mileage sign is posted for the next offramp (Exit 86, Junction Dakota County Route 46) as well as Exit 85, Junction Dakota County Route 5 and Dakota County Route 50. The southbound control city of Albert Lea is listed at the bottom of the sign. Photo taken 04/21/07.
An Interstate 35W ENDS, BEGIN Interstate 35 sign is posted prior to the merge of Interstate 35W and Interstate 35E. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Interstate 35E merges onto Interstate 35W from the right. The right lane of Interstate 35E will end, and three southbound lanes continue toward the next exit (Exit 86, Junction Dakota County Route 46). Photo taken 04/21/07.
Perspective from Interstate 35E south
Southbound Interstate 35E approaches Exit 88B, Junction Dakota County Route 42, one mile. This is the last exit before Interstate 35E merges with Interstate 35W in Burnsville. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (07/13/06).
This mileage sign is posted on southbound Interstate 35E after the Dakota County Route 11 interchange. The next exit is Exit 88B, Junction Dakota County Route 42. Unmentioned on this mileage sign is Exit 88A, Junction Interstate 35W north to Minneapolis; there is no access from southbound Interstate 35E to northbound Interstate 35W. There is no access to Interstate 35W north from Interstate 35E south (and there is no access from Interstate 35W south to Interstate 35E north); the interchange is a standard-Y. To get to Interstate 35W north from Interstate 35E south (and to get from Interstate 35E north on Interstate 35W south), one has to exit on that interchange with Dakota County Route 42 and drive a very short distance. The interchange with Dakota County Route 46 is located south of the Interstate 35W merge with Interstate 35E. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (07/13/06).
The final exit along southbound Interstate 35E is Exit 88B, Junction Dakota County Route 42. After this interchange, the freeway will merge with southbound Interstate 35W. Photo taken by Chris Lokken (07/13/06).
This End Interstate 35E/Begin Interstate 35 signage is posted on southbound Interstate 35E on the overpass for the Dakota County Route 42 interchange. Photo taken 04/23/07.
Perspective from Interstate 35 south
After Interstate 35W and Interstate 35E merge together, the first exit along unified Interstate 35 south is Exit 86, Junction Dakota County Route 46. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Southbound Interstate 35 reaches Exit 86, Junction Dakota County Route 46 in Burnsville. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Perspective from Interstate 35 north
This mileage sign, which is located 21 miles south of the Interstate 35E-W split prior to Exit 69 (Junction Minnesota 19 near Northfield) is the first mention of the pending Interstate 35 split before entering the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Photos taken 04/20/07 and by Jeff Morrison (03/19/07).
As Interstate 35 north approaches the metropolitan Twin Cities, it will split into Interstate 35E to St. Paul and Interstate 35W to Minneapolis. Other than the Dallas/Fort Worth split in Texas, this is the only remaining east/west split of an Interstate highway in the country. Both splits are located on Interstate 35. Photo taken 04/20/07.
A truck restriction on Interstate 35E between Minnesota 5 and Interstate 94 means that through trucks should use Interstate 35W or the Interstate 494-694 belt route. Photo taken 04/20/07.
After Exit 86 (Junction Dakota County Route 46/162nd Street), this brown guide sign indicates that the Minnesota Zoo is via Interstate 35E north and Minnesota 77 south, and the Mystic Lake Casino is via Interstate 35E north and Dakota County Route 42. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Northbound Interstate 35 reaches Exit 87, Crystal Lake Road. The next exit, Exit 88, is the split. Interstate 35E carries the mileage and exit numbering of mainline Interstate 35, while Interstate 35W is an independent route with its own exit numbers and mileage. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Use Interstate 35E north to Exit 88B (Junction Dakota County Route 42). Interstate 35E continues north with the mileage-based numbering of Interstate 35, while Interstate 35W has its own set of distinct mileposts and mileage-based exit numbers. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Diagrammatic sign indicating the split of the three lanes into Interstate 35W to Minneapolis and Interstate 35E to St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota. For access to Interstate 94 east, use Interstate 35E; to reach Interstate 94 west, use Interstate 35W. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Interstate 35W and Interstate 35E split at Exit 88A. The left two lanes travel north toward Minneapolis, while the right two lanes travel toward St. Paul. Photos taken 04/21/07 and by Jeff Morrison (03/19/07).
Perspective from Interstate 35E north
After the ramp to Exit 88B (Junction Dakota County Route 42), the second exit along Interstate 35E north is Exit 90, Dakota County Route 11. Photo taken 04/21/07.
This is the first reassurance shield for northbound Interstate 35E after the Interstate 35W split in Burnsville. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Perspective from Interstate 35W north
The first exit along Interstate 35W north is Exit 2, Burnsville Parkway. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Shortly thereafter is the first Interstate 35W north reassurance shield after the Interstate 35W split in Burnsville. Photo taken 04/21/07.
Northern Terminus - Interstate 35 - near Lino Lakes, Minnesota
Perspective from Interstate 35E north
End Interstate 35E/begin Interstate 35 advance guide sign on Interstate 35E northbound. A similar sign can be found on Interstate 35W northbound. Photo taken by Monte Castleman (07/02).
Perspective from Interstate 35W north
The final exit along Interstate 35W north is Exit 36, Junction Anoka County Route 23. The merge point with Interstate 35E is located four miles ahead. Photo taken 04/23/07.
After the on-ramp from Anoka County Route 23 is the final reassurance shield for Interstate 35W. Photo taken 04/23/07.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Exit 129, Junction Minnesota 97 and Anoka County Route 23; Exit 131, Junction Washington County Route 2 to Forest Lake; and the control city of Duluth (133 miles). Photo taken 04/23/07.
Now traveling north on Interstate 35W, this End Interstate 35W/begin Interstate 35 sign is posted prior to the merge point with Interstate 35E. The two routes merge together to re-form Interstate 35 en route to Duluth. This is a very rural-looking stretch of Interstate with a 70 mile per hour speed limit. Photos taken 04/23/07 and by Jeff Morrison (03/19/07).
A weigh station is located after the merge between Interstate 35W and Interstate 35E. This bridge carries Anoka County Route 21 over Interstate 35W. Photo taken 04/23/07.
The southbound lanes of Interstate 35W cross over Interstate 35E. This view shows the southbound split of Interstate 35 into Interstate 35E and Interstate 35W. Photo taken 04/23/07.
The right lane of Interstate 35W will end at the merge point with Interstate 35E. Photo taken 04/23/07.
Another view of the Interstate 35W-Interstate 35E merge from northbound Interstate 35W comes into view. Traffic from Interstate 35E merges in from the left. Photo taken 04/23/07.
Perspective from Interstate 35 north
This is the first reassurance shield for Interstate 35 north after the Interstate 35E-Interstate 35W merge. Photo taken 04/23/07.
Perspective from Interstate 35 south
Now traveling south on Interstate 35, the split with Interstate 35E and Interstate 35W is identified on this mileage sign found prior to the interchange with Minnesota 97 and Anoka County Route 23 (Exit 129). Photo taken 04/23/07.
This diagrammatic sign is the first advance guide signage for the Interstate 35E/W split along southbound. Note that Exit 127 is used for Interstate 35W, while the exit numbering for Interstate 35 continues along Interstate 35E. This diagrammatic sign is very similar to one used on Interstate 35 northbound approaching Exit 88. Photo taken 04/23/07.
A second diagrammatic sign is posted next to the weigh station on southbound Interstate 35. The right lanes connect to Interstate 35W to Minneapolis, and the left lanes connect to Interstate 35E to St. Paul. A truck restriction is in place for through trucks on Interstate 35E. Photo taken 04/23/07.
Interstate 35E/W sign bridge for the split on Interstate 35 south. Notice how the cardinal direction indicators are omitted on these signs. Photo taken by Don Greiskalns (6/01).
Perspective from Interstate 35E south
This is the first Interstate 35E south reassurance shield after the split. The shield is located prior to the flyover ramp that connects Interstate 35W north with Interstate 35 north. Very few state-named shields remain for Interstate 35E in Minnesota. Photo taken 04/23/07.


  1. Interstate 35W Bridge Collapse - Mississippi River Crossing in downtown Minneapolis
  2. "North, South Legs Of I-35E Will Finally Be Connected." St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), October 7, 1990.
  3. mndotvis. (2013, March 26). I-35E project video [Video file]. Retrieved from
  4. I-35E South Metro (outside the Beltway), Adam Froehlig.

Page Updated July 2, 2015.

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Interstate 35E
State Minnesota
Mileage 39.34
Cities Eagan, Saint Paul, Roseville, Lino Lakes
Junctions Interstate 494, Interstate 94, Interstate 694
Interstate 35W
State Minnesota
Mileage 41.78
Cities Burnsville, Bloomington, Richfield, Minneapolis, Roseville, Blaine, Lino Lakes
Junctions Interstate 494, Interstate 94, Interstate 694
Source: December 31, 2014 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
Downtown Minneapolis Inset - 1975 Minnesota Official Highway Map
Minnesota 36 provided the link between the two sections of Interstate 35W between Hennepin Avenue and New Brighton Boulevard (U.S. 8) until the freeway was completed. The interchange with I-335, a planned east-west connector to I-94, held up completion of this section until it was canceled in 1975.
Minneapolis and St. Paul Inset - 1983-84 Minnesota Official Highway Map
Interstate 35E opened to traffic between Interstate 35 at Burnsville and Minnesota 77 at Eagan in 1982. The freeway north to Interstate 494 at Mendota Heights was completed by late 1985.4
Initial construction on the parkway section of Interstate 35E ran northward from Minnesota 5 (West 7th Street) to the Linwood Park vicinity in 1980. The route however would not open for another ten years.
The Parkway section of I-35E defaults northbound motorists onto I-94 east while access to I-35E southbound is only available directly from I-94 west. Local streets are required to make the missing connections.