MnDOT Plans Several Northwest Metro Road Projects
This week CCX News is airing a special transportation three-part series titled, “Barrels, Brake Lights and Cone Zones – a Road Report.”
As the Twin Cities continues to grow, MnDOT acknowledges there’s a need for better roads.
“We know that we can’t build ourselves out of congestion,” said Chris Hoberg of MnDOT. “That is something that is so cost prohibitive that we can’t do it.”
“It’s getting worse,” said Ryan Bender of Crystal. “I’ve been to Arizona. When I was there on the highway, the highways were a lot bigger. There’s like six lanes on each side. I think that’s what Minnesota needs to do.”
But for MnDOT it’s not that simple. Building new highways, adding lanes or maintaining the status quo is costly.
“We really look to make those spot investments,” Hoberg said. “Those investments that are going to have a big bang for the buck and that helps us stretch our dollars further.”
MnDOT Plans Significant Upgrades
In the northwest suburbs it is a challenge to keep traffic flowing. In 2017 MnDOT finished a monster project on I-94 between Brooklyn Center and downtown Minneapolis. This year MnDOT made significant upgrades on Highway 169 in Brooklyn Park and Champlin.
“Down the road we could be looking at adding additional lanes on 94, or on Highway 610,” said Kent Barnard, MnDOT spokesperson. “It all depends on how population grows and demographics work out in the next few years.”
“We also have a pretty big pavement repair project coming on 94 from Maple Grove out to Rogers,” Hoberg said. “That’s out in about the 2020 timeframe right now. That’s going to include some auxiliary lanes from the 610 interchange up to a new interchange near Brockton Avenue.”
“Game Changer” for Brooklyn Center
In the Brooklyns, Highway 252 has been a wedge issue for decades. But soon the lights will be gone. MnDOT will convert Highway 252 to a freeway connecting Highway 610 to I-94/694. The project will include a MnPASS lane.
“It’s going to be addressed,” said Brooklyn Center Mayor Tim Willson. “Now we’ve got full funding and 2022 is when MnDOT would like to start that project.”
Willson thinks this will be a game-changer for his city.
“The impact for Brooklyn Center is that there’s going to be easier access from the east side, on the river side of 252, to the rest of our community,” said Willson.
Removing the lights will also make things safer. The intersection of Highway 252 and 66th Avenue is one of the most dangerous in all of Minnesota, according to crash data.
“I’ve seen elderly women, my age and slightly older, who cannot make it across that street before the light turns,” Willson said. “They are stuck in the middle.”
When you boil it down it’s a gigantic job for MnDOT to keep Minnesota roads up and running, especially in a state where frigid weather is common. MnDOT also has a budget.
“We have to make the right investment,” Hoberg said. “The right amount at the right time. It’s a challenge to manage all those things and we are fiscally constrained.”