Interstate 494 Minnesota

Interstate 494 Minnesota
I-494 east - Wakota Bridge

Interstate 494 previously crossed the Mississippi River on the Wakota Bridge. A multi-year, often delayed project from 2002 to 2010, replaced this steel through arch bridge built in 1959. The replacement span accommodates ten overall lanes and a bike/pedestrian path between South St. Paul and Newport. 04/23/07

Overview

Interstate 494 forms the southern and western quadrants of the 73-mile Twin Cities beltway system while I-94 and I-694 travel along the northern portion of the loop from Maple Grove east to Oakdale. I-494 and I-694 share end points and an exit numbering system. Exits 1A and 1B are located south of the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in Bloomington. Numbers increase as I-494 travels clockwise and reset at the Minnesota River.

A mostly suburban commuter freeway, the 42 mile route of Interstate 494 serves communities such as Plymouth, Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Bloomington, South St. Paul and Woodbury. I-494 overlaps with MN 5 from U.S. 212 (Exit 11C) to the airport (Exit 1A) along the locally known Bloomington Strip. The western leg from Eden Prairie north to I-94/694 at Maple Grove parallels a transmission corridor.

Major Projects

Long range plans will upgrade the 1960s-built cloverleaf interchange between I-35W and I-494 on the Bloomington and Richfield city line. Studies in 2014 outlined two designs for the exchange: the Turbine concept and the Clovermill concept. The Turbine adds flyovers in all directions with the exception of I-35E south to I-494 east, while the Clovermill design only adds a flyover from I-35E north to I-494 west. Both were evaluated in their ability to improve congestion and safety while providing a cost effective solution. The Turbine interchange design was carried forward by 2014.10 See the I-494 and I-35W Study home page for more details.

Route Information

  • East End – Woodbury, MN

  • West End – Maple Grove, MN

  • Mileage – 42.94

  • Cities – Minneapolis, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Minnetonka

  • JunctionsI-94 I-694 I-35W I-35E

Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN - 1962
Minneapolis-St. Paul inset – 1962 Minnesota Official Highway Map

Minnesota Trunk Highway 100 was dropped along I-494 through Bloomington by 1963. The section north of Minneapolis and St. Paul was decommissioned in 1965 as Interstate 694 was completed. Remaining stretches east of St. Paul and south of St. Paul were renumbered as MN 110 and MN 120 respectively.

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN - 1982
The final portion of Interstate 494 under construction – Gousha 1982 North American Road Atlas

Interstate 494 directly overlaid MN 110 from Robert Trail (old U.S. 52) east to the split diamond interchange (Exit 65) with 7th and 5th Avenues in South St. Paul.

History

Prior to construction of the Interstate system, the Twin Cities were encircled by Minnesota Trunk Highway 100, a mostly at-grade belt line. A good comparison can be made with Indianapolis, which also had a pre-Interstate belt line numbered SR 100. The initial stretches of Interstate 494 utilized upgraded stretches of MN 100, including the overlap with MN 5 from Exit 7 to 1A across Bloomington and MN 100 between South St. Paul and Newport. Upgrades there were completed by 1959. The section at South St. Paul was extended west from MN 156 to 5th and 7th Avenues (Exit 65) in 1960. Construction through 1961 replaced the alignment of MN 5 along 78th Street westward with a new freeway to then U.S. 169/212 at Rowland.1

The next portions of I-494 completed were between U.S. 10/61 (Exit 63) north to Valley Creek Road (Exit 59) at Woodbury in 1962 and the section from Rowland north to MN 7 (Exit 16) at Minnetonka in 1963. Further lengthening of this section followed in 1966 from MN 7 to MN 55 (Exit 22) at Plymouth.1

The links with I-94 from I-494 were open from Exit 59 to Oakdale in 1967 and between MN 55 and I-94 east at Maple Grove in 1968. The full interchange with I-94/694 was not completed until 1973 when Interstate 94 opened to the northwest. This left the portion between the MN 5 freeway at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) and 7th Avenue in South St. Paul. Litigation delayed this stretch, with construction finally underway by 1980 with completion east across the Minnesota River to MN 55 in 1982. The final segment took I-494 east to Sunfish Lake, and over the original MN 100/110 alignment through Inver Grove Heights to Exit 65 in 1986.1

The Wakota Bridge, named after the two counties it connected: Washington and Dakota, opened in 1959 as part of the original MN 100 belt line encircling the Twin Cities area. Reflecting a pre-Interstate system design, the steel arch bridge carried four overall lanes with no shoulders. A $206-million project to replace the aging span started with preparation work at Red Rock Road on November 20, 2001. Originally slated for completion in Fall 2007 and split into nine projects, construction included widening U.S. 61 to six lanes through Newport, rebuilding 3.5 miles of I-494 and replacing the bridge across the Mississippi River.2

As work progressed, costs increased to $250 million. Completed construction by late 2003 included redesigns of Bailey Road, Point Douglas Road and Hastings Avenue, local roads tieing into I-494 just east of U.S. 61. These were rebuilt to accommodate access changes for the Wakota Project.3

Issues with the Wakota Project arose in September 2005 when an abnormal amount of hairline cracking in support sections of the new span were discovered during inspection. While the deficiencies did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge, if left unaddressed, they may have allowed road salt and water seepage to corrode metal support elements and ultimately shortened the 100-year lifespan of the crossing.4

Construction crews retrofitted the span by installing additional support cables as the scheduled completion of the first span shifted from November 2005 to Fall 2006. With retrofit work taking longer than expected, the overall completion was delayed from 2007 to 2008.4,5 Not long after the first new span opened with two-way traffic in October 2006, issues between Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) officials and the contractor, Lunda Construction Co., culminated when a dispute over costs led the state to release the construction firm. Necessary design changes resulting from the hairline cracks added $15 million to the project costs. The time table for completion was pushed back again to 2009.6

The 1959 Wakota Bridge was dismantled in January 2007, clearing the way for construction of the new eastbound span. A new bidding process commenced in January 2008 and with the lowest bid, $60.1-million, submitted by Lunda Construction Co. (the same company that MnDOT dropped from the project previously).7 Further actions resulted in a $20 million settlement between MnDOT and HNTB Corp., the engineering firm responsible for the original faulty design of the bridge. A portion of these funds were allocated to the reconstruction of Interstate 494 leading north from the Wakota Bridge to I-94 in Woodbury. Portions of the 1960s era freeway were expanded to six lanes with new concrete poured during work running simultaneously with the Wakota Project.8

The new eastbound span for Interstate 494 across the Mississippi River was finally completed on July 1, 2010. Costing $114 million, nearly twice the original estimates, the ten-lane crossing is the widest bridge in the state and the eighth-longest at 1,889 feet.9

The I-494 Rehabilitation Project underway from July 2014 to November 2016 expanded portions of the freeway between I-394/U.S. 12 at Minnetonka to the exchange with I-94/694 at Maple Grove. The $86 million project replaced the concrete surface of the freeway, rebuilt several overpasses and added auxiliary lanes.11

East End I-94 I-694 US 12 – Woodbury, Minnesota

I-494 North at I-94 I-694 US 12

I-494 north at I-94/694-US 12 - Woodbury, MN

Interstate 494 travels 1.25 miles north from the parclo interchange (Exit 59) with Valley Creek Road to meet I-94/U.S. 12 at the Oakdale city line. 06/14/15

I-494 north at I-94/694-US 12 - Woodbury, MN

Exit 58C loops away from I-494 north to Tamarack Road in Woodbury. Exit 58B follows in one half mile for I-94/U.S. 12 east to Afton, Lakeland and Hudson, Wisconsin. 06/14/15

I-494 north at I-94/694-US 12 - Woodbury, MN

An end sign for I-494 north precedes the beltway transition to Interstate 694. I-694 extends the belt line north through Oakdale and White Bear Lake. 06/14/15

I-494 north at I-94/694-US 12 - Woodbury, MN

Exit 58B departs for Interstate 94 east to Eau Claire and Madison, Wisconsin. U.S. 12 accompanies the freeway to Exit 4 in Wisconsin. The route is unsigned along I-94 between Minneapolis and the Saint Croix River. 06/14/15

I-494 north at I-94/694-US 12 - Woodbury, MN

Traffic bound for I-94 (and U.S. 12) west into St. Paul leaves as I-694 takes over northward to CSAH 10 in Oakdale. I-694 serves the northern suburbs of Vadnais Heights, Arden Hills and Fridley among other cities. 06/14/15

I-694 South at I-94 I-494 US 12

I-694 south at I-94/494-US 12 - Oakdale, MN

I-694 south transitions to I-494, 2.5 miles south of the Stillwater Road overpass at Interstate 94. The last mainline exit connects with CSAH 10 (10th Street N) in south Oakdale. Photo by Chris Lokken and David Meus (07/15/12).

I-694 south at I-94/494-US 12 - Oakdale, MN

A parclo interchange (Exit 57) joins I-694 with CSAH 10 (Tenth Street N) ahead of the exchange with I-94/694. Photo by Chris Lokken and David Meus (07/15/12).

I-694 south at I-94/494-US 12 - Oakdale, MN

The I-94 East Metro Interchange expanded I-694 between CSAH 10 and I-94/694 with an auxiliary lane in each direction. The $28.5 million project ran from 2019 to Fall 2020.12 04/23/07

I-694 south at I-94/494-US 12 - Oakdale, MN

Interstate 494 takes the Twin Cities beltway southwest from I-94/694 to Newport and I-35E at Mendota Heights. I-94 runs across St. Paul to the north while linking Downtown with Downtown Minneapolis. 04/23/07

I-694 south at I-94/494-US 12 - Oakdale, MN

Exit 58B follows for I-94/U.S. 12 through the eastern suburbs to Hudson, Wisconsin. U.S. 12 parallels the I-94 corridor southeast to Madison. 06/15/15

I-94 US 12 East at I-494 I-694

I-94/US 12 east at I-494/694 - Maplewood, MN

I-94/U.S. 12 enter Washington County and the city of Woodbury at the exchange with MN 120 (Century Avenue), one mile from I-494/694. 04/21/07

I-94/US 12 east at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

A fourth eastbound lane accompanies I-94/U.S. 12 east from the Century Avenue entrance ramp to Exit 249 for I-494 south and I-694 north. 04/21/07

I-94/US 12 east at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

Interstate 694 runs north through the city of Oakdale to MN 36 at Pine Springs and then west to White Bear Lake. 04/21/07

I-94/US 12 east at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

Interstate 94 maintains six overall lanes alongside c/d roadways through the cloverleaf interchange (Exit 249) with I-494 and I-694. 04/21/07

I-94/US 12 east at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

Interstate 494 south passes through Woodbury to south Maplewood and Newport before crossing the Mississippi River to South St. Paul. 04/21/07

I-94 US 12 West at I-494 I-694

I-94/US 12 west at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

I-94/U.S. 12 west expand to five lanes from Exit 250 with CSAH 12 (Inwood Avenue) to the collector distributor roadway (Exit 249) for I-694 north and I-494 south. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (07/12/12).

I-94/US 12 west at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

Forthcoming Interstate 694 north connects with I-35E at Vadnais Heights and U.S. 10 west at Arden Hills. I-494 south provides a bypass for I-35E south through Eagan and Apple Valley. 06/15/15

I-94/US 12 west at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

The first ramp at Exit 249 links I-94 west with Interstate 694 north through Oakdale. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (07/12/12).

I-94/US 12 west at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

North from Oakdale, I-694 runs west between White Bear Lake and Maplewood to Shoreview, New Brighton and Brooklyn Park. Photo by Chris and Amber Lokken (07/12/12).

I-94/US 12 west at I-494/694 - Woodbury, MN

Interstate 494 arcs southwest from I-94/694 to Mendota Heights, MSP Airport, Richfield and Bloomington. 06/15/15

West End I-94 I-694 US 52 – Maple Grove, Minnesota

I-494 North at I-94 I-694 US 52

I-494 north at I-94/694 - Maple Grove, MN

Interstate 494 ends 1.25 miles beyond the CSAH 10 overpass at the exchange with I-94/694. Photo by Chris Lokken and David Meus (07/15/11).

I-494 north at I-94/694 - Maple Grove, MN

2014-16 reconstruction of I-494 from CSAH 10 to Exit 27 for I-94 west added a third lane in each direction. Expansion of the freeway removed this sign bridge and the last reassurance marker for I-494 north by Fall 2015.
Photo by Chris Lokken and David Meus (07/15/11).

I-494 north at I-94/694 - Maple Grove, MN

I-494 concludes north of the E Fish Lake Road overpass. The mainline defaults onto Interstate 94 west to St. Cloud. Photo by Chris Lokken and David Meus (07/15/11).

I-494 north at I-94/694 - Maple Grove, MN

I-694 returns the inner belt east to White Bear Lake and south back to I-94 at Oakdale and Woodbury. West beyond St. Cloud, I-94 travels to Fargo, North Dakota and over the former alignment of U.S. 10 to I-90 at Billings, Montana. Photo by Chris Lokken and David Meus (07/15/11).

I-94 US 52 East at I-494 I-694

I-94/US 52 east at I-494/694 - Maple Grove, MN

Exit 216 partitions from I-94/U.S. 52 east to Interstate 494 south to Plymouth and Minnetonka. I-694 east overlaps with I-94 eight miles through Brooklyn Park to Brooklyn Center. 06/14/15

I-94/US 52 east at I-494/694 - Maple Grove, MN

Traffic separates at Exit 216 with two lanes joining I-494 south to Eden Prairie and two lanes for I-94/694 east to Minneapolis and St. Paul. 06/14/15

I-94 I-694 US 52 West at I-494

I-94/694 west at I-494 - Maple Grove, MN

I-94/694 meet the freeway along U.S. 169 at a cloverleaf interchange, 2.5 miles ahead of the I-694 west end and the I-494 south beginning. 06/16/15

I-94/694 west at I-494 - Maple Grove, MN

Continuing west from U.S. 169, I-94/694 pass between a quarry and residential subdivisions to a folded diamond interchange (Exit 28) with CSAH 61 (Hemlock Lane). Interstate 494 south departs from the left in less than two miles. 06/16/15

I-94/694 west at I-494 - Maple Grove, MN

2014-16 construction rehabilitated the concrete pavement of I-494 from Maple Grove south to Plymouth and I-394/U.S. 12. Additional work also replaced the I-494 bridges at CSAH 47, Schmidt Lake Road and the Canadian Pacific Railway and added auxiliary lanes between MN 55 and E Fish Lake Road. 06/16/15

I-94/694 west at I-494 - Maple Grove, MN

I-494 south extends the belt line interchange numbering system from the continuation of I-94 west at Exit 27. I-94/U.S. 52 west travel 43 miles northwest to St. Cloud. Beyond there, truck traffic dissipates on the rural course to Fergus Falls and Moorehead. 06/16/15

I-94/694 west at I-494 - Maple Grove, MN

I-694 ends at the three-wye interchange (Exit 27) joining I-94/494. Interstate 494 leads south to U.S. 212 at Eden Prairie and east along the Bloomington Strip. Connections with U.S. 12 take motorists west to Wayzata and Orono. 06/16/15

Sources:

  1. Twin Cities Interstate System (Adam Froehlig).
  2. “Work Begins On Wakota Bridge Project/$206 Million Endeavor Includes I-494, U.S. 61.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), November 21, 2001.
  3. “Wakota Project Inches Forward.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), December 6, 2003.
  4. “Design Problem Delays Wakota Bridge Opening – Officials Worry About Spring Barge Traffic.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), August 17, 2005.
  5. “Repairs Delay I-494 Bridge Opening – South St. Paul Project’s End Date Pushed Back A Year To 2008.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), December 2, 2005.
  6. “Troubled I-494 Bridge Project Hits New Snag – Another Delay Expected After MnDOT Ousts Contractor In Dispute Over Rising Costs.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), December 29, 2006.
  7. “I-494 Bridge Bid Double Original Estimate – $60.1 Million Proposal To Finish Troubled Project Costs $3 Million More Than Builder’s 2006 Offer.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), January 26, 2008.
  8. “Bridge Settlement Speeds Timetable – Completion of Wakota, I-494 Work Planned By July 2010.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), November 26, 2008.
  9. “Finally, a wider Wakota – A headache for Dakota and Washington county drivers is nearly over. Construction of the new bridge — overbudget and snarling Interstate 494 at U.S. 61 for seven years — will be complete early next month.” St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN), June 27, 2010.
  10. I-494 / I-35W Interchange Fact Sheet 5 – Transitway Concept Refinement, April 2014. Minnesota Department of Transportation.
  11. http://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/i494plymouth/index.html
  12. I-94 East Metro Interchange. Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) project web site.

Page updated November 18, 2020.