Brooklyn Park Provides Updates on LRT, Major Highway Projects
Busy is the word in Brooklyn Park when it comes to road, highway and transit projects. Many of those projects are scheduled to start this summer.
The Brooklyn Park City Council received an update on the major Brooklyn Park highway projects at its meeting Monday evening. However, the timeline for a couple of those projects, the Bottineau Blue Line extension and the Highway 252 freeway conversion, remains uncertain.
Bottineau LRT Blue Line Extension
The Bottineau light rail transit (LRT) project remains uncertain as government officials have not been able to obtain a right-of-way agreement with BNSF Railway Co. Design work is 90 percent complete and funding is secured at the local level, mostly paid through Hennepin County, said Kim Berggren, Brooklyn Park’s director of community development. However, the project needs BNSF to sign off on the project for the federal government to match the local funding, Berggren said.
The Metropolitan Council estimates the Bottineau Blue Line extension to have 27,000 riders a day in 2030. The 13-mile extension would run from Target Field in downtown Minneapolis through Golden Valley, Robbinsdale and Crystal, before reaching Target’s Northern Campus in Brooklyn Park. There would be five stops in Brooklyn Park.
Highway 169/101st Avenue Interchange
Construction on the Highway 169/101st Avenue interchange project started in March. Homes were supposed to be torn down this month to make way for the interchange, but that hasn’t happened yet, said Dan Ruiz, Brooklyn Park’s public works director. The project also requires new road access to be built to accommodate Grace Fellowship Church. Work on both of those items is expected in the coming weeks. Bridge construction for the interchange could last through October, Ruiz said.
Growth to and from the northwest suburbs precipitated the project.
“We’ve been working on this project for many, many years,” said Ruiz.
The city is eyeing more than 1,000 acres of undeveloped land in the nearby area as another reason for the project.
The cost estimate of the interchange is down from $30 million to $24 million, partially due to to favorable bids. The city may have to pay $2 to $4 million for the project. The city will likely face an assessment hearing of benefiting properties next year.
Highway 252 Freeway Conversion
The conversion of Highway 252 into a six-lane freeway is another Brooklyn Park highway project that has received a lot of attention. The stretch of 252 between Highway 610 and I-94 consists of five of the most crash-prone intersections in the state. The widening 252 to six lanes could include MnPASS lanes, which are designated for carpoolers and solo commuters who pay a fee. The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is currently evaluating the MnPASS option.
The 252 project only has about half the state funding needed to do the full stretch. Ruiz says there needs to be a consensus from Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis, other cities impacted by the project, to speed up the funding.
A safety task force that started in Brooklyn Center raised concerns about neighborhood access and safety. There were also concerns about added traffic through nearby Minneapolis neighborhoods. MnDOT decided it was best to do an environmental impact statement (EIS), a lengthy review to address potential effects of the project, to prevent potential litigation.
The EIS pushed backed construction a couple of years, Ruiz said. As of right now construction is expected to start in 2025. Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde says if there’s any further delay, the city may forward without waiting for neighboring cities to start the project.
“I want to wait as long as we possibly can, but if there’s a moment where we have money, where we have will to at least get Brooklyn Park done, we should go for it,” said Lunde. “Because I don’t want to sit and wait for somebody to be killed.”
County Road 81 Reconstruction
This is also year two of County Road 81 reconstruction in Brooklyn Park. The work will upgrade the thoroughfare to a six-lane roadway with curb-and-gutter raised medians.
This summer will focus on 76th to 83rd Avenue (71st Avenue to 76th Avenue was completed last year). A small part of Brooklyn Boulevard will also be reconstructed this summer. The project includes improving pedestrian connections and crossings. Extending Crystal Lake Regional Trail to 85th Avenue is also part of the scope.
The work will overlap with pavement work on West Broadway done by Hennepin County.
“The overlay project on West Broadway is a very short-term project,” said Ruiz, adding there wouldn’t be any closures on West Broadway.
Neighborhood Street Projects
Neighborhood street projects also resume this summer in Brooklyn Park, though they’ll be downsized due to COVID-19.
Work in the Shingle Creek neighborhood in the southern part of the city will just be along Shingle Creek Drive this summer. The city will do a mill and overlay work and redo a bike lane to Candlewood Drive.
In the northern part of the city, mill and overlay work will be done in neighborhoods north and south of Highway 610. That work is expected to start in June and be completed by late August.
The city also plans to install a traffic signal at 93rd Avenue and Noble Parkway and reconstruct 93rd Avenue between Zane and Regent Avenues.
Brooklyn Park Bike-Pedestrian Plan
There are also efforts to improve biking and pedestrian connections in the southern part of the city. The bike-pedestrian plan would connect older neighborhoods that have fewer trails in place.
“Residents want to see connections to key destinations. They want to have more walking loops,” said Berggren.
City staff plans to recommend trails to focus on for future years years. Officials will bring recommendations forward later this year.
Reviewing Speed Limits
Finally, the city council heard from staff about reviewing speed limits in the city. Under legislation approved by Minnesota lawmakers in 2019, cities can lower speed limits on residential roadways to under 30 miles per hour. The issue will involve a comprehensive review with recommendations for council consideration in late 2020 or early 2021.
“I’m super excited about the opportunity for us to review the speed limits in the city,” said Brooklyn Park City Council member Susan Pha.