Interstate 494 or I -494 is an Interstate Highway in the US state of Minnesota. The highway, along with Interstate 694, forms the ring road of the Minneapolis metropolitan area. I-494 forms the western and southern beltways and is 69 kilometers long.
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I-494 on the west side of Minneapolis, off I-394/US 12.
In the northwestern suburb of Maple Grove, I-494 branches off from Interstate 94, the conurbation’s main east-west highway. I-494 runs south in 2×2 lanes through the 70,000-population suburb of Plymouth. A large business park is situated here along the highway and the highway has 2×3 lanes here. In Minnetonka one crosses Interstate 394, which starts here and goes downtown, also US 12 goes west to Willmar. After this, I-494 narrows again to 2×2 lanes and passes through Minnetonka and later Eden Prairie. At the latter city one crosses the State Route 62, an east-west highway to the city’s airport, which lies a little to the east. I-494 slowly curves east here and intersects State Route 312, which leads to US 212. I-494 then travels east and intersects US 169 at the border of Eden Prairie, Edina, and Bloomington, a north-south route to Brooklyn Park. A direct connection to the north is not possible from I-494, but this also does not make sense.
You then pass through Bloomington, a suburb with 81,000 inhabitants. The highway passes through an industrial zone here and crosses State Route 100, the highway to Brooklyn Center. There are no fewer than 4 north-south highways in this area. The road widens again to 2×3 lanes. At an office park in Bloomington, one crosses Interstate 35W, the highway from Des Moines to Minneapolis. The Minneapolis airport crosses the 5th north-south highway, State Route 77, the highway from Eagan to Minneapolis. However, most of the airport is not served by I-494 itself. The State Route 5turns northwest toward St. Paul and is the airport’s main access road. Immediately after, I-494 crosses the Minnesota River.
One then enters the suburb of Eagan, which has 64,000 inhabitants. In a business park, one crosses Interstate 35E, the eastern branch of I-35 through the metropolitan area. This is the 8th north-south highway that one crosses. I-494 also has 2×3 lanes here. In Inver Grove Heights, it crosses US 52, the 9th north-south axis connecting Inver Grove Heights to downtown St. Paul. One then comes via the 2×5 lane Wakota Bridge over the Mississippi River. It then crosses US 10, the road from Cottage Grove to St. Paul. I-494 curves north here and in the Woodbury suburb, I-494 becomes Interstate 694, which forms the rest of the beltway. All this happens at the height of theInterstate 94.
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Construction on I-494 began in the mid-1950s, when the Wakota Bridge was built over the Mississippi River at South St. Paul. This bridge opened to traffic in 1959. The first section of highway opened in 1961, a 12-kilometer stretch through the southern suburb of Bloomington. The rest of the west and east rings opened up quite prosperously during the 1960s, with the exception of part of the south ring between Inver Grove Heights and Bloomington. This part, like other highways in the region, took years to come. It wasn’t until about 1983 that the bridge over the Minnesota River between Eagan and Bloomington was opened, and it wasn’t until 1985 that the last link south of St. Paul opened to traffic.
Between 2003 and 2010, the old 1959 Wakota Bridge was replaced by a new 2×5-lane bridge. This, along with the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis, is the widest bridge in the Twin Cities. Between 2014 and 2016, I-494 on the west side of the metropolitan area was widened to 2×3 lanes, between I-94 and I-394. This was the last section of I-494 to have 2×2 lanes left.
Opening dates taken from Minnesota State Highway maps.
|exit 63||Exit 64||2 km||1959|
|exit 0||Exit 7||12 km||1961|
|Exit 7||Exit 10||5 km||1962|
|exit 59||exit 63||6 km||1963|
|Exit 10||Exit 16||10 km||1964|
|Exit 16||Exit 22||10 km||1967|
|Exit 22||Exit 27||8 km||1968|
|exit 58||exit 59||2 km||1968|
|exit 70||exit 0||5 km||1983|
|Exit 64||exit 70||10 km||1985|
In Plymouth, intensities rise from 80,000 to 105,000 in Minnetonka. On the 2×2 section in Eden Prairie, 76,000 vehicles drive per day. In Bloomington, this quickly rises to 166,000 vehicles. This remains fairly stable until the airport. 90,000 vehicles cross the Minnesota River every day. About 89,000 vehicles do that across the Mississippi. The end counts about 72,000 vehicles.