Highway 212 will now be widened to four lanes between Carver and Cologne, following a vote by the Carver County Board of Commissioners to fully fund the expansion.
The county and the Southwest Corridor Transportation Coalition have lobbied for expansion of Highway 212 westward, ever since the new four-lane portion of the road was completed between Eden Prairie and Carver in 2008.
However, the county has struggled to find enough funding to tackle the project. It had previously secured $22 million in federal funds, and adopted a 0.5% local sales tax in May 2017 to help pay for critical projects like Highway 212 due to a shortfall of state funding.
This phase of the Highway 212 expansion is 4.5 miles long and will cost approximately $50 million. $22 million will come from the federal grant, the State committed $19 million, and the remaining $9 million comes from the local sales tax.
"We've been talking about expanding this road since I was a boy," said Carver County Board of Commissioners Chair James Ische. "But since we're competing for funding with all of these bigger roads in the metro like 694 and 494, it's hard to get. We just don't have the numbers or political clout."
As long as the county receives state approval in January 2021, tree clearing will begin by March and grading will start in July. If all goes to plan, the construction will be complete by July 2023.
It will be built in stages and won’t require detours, except for special situations that require short-term closures.
However, the Carver and Cologne project is only the first phase. The second stretch of two-lane Highway 212 left in the county is located between Cologne and Norwood Young America. Expanding that portion of roadway would require approximately another $61 million in funding by 2024, $12 million of which would be covered by the sales tax.
This year, the county submitted 10 solo grant applications to the Regional Solicitation, a process run by the Metropolitan Council that happens every other year and awards up to $200 million in federal funds for projects in the Twin Cities metro area.
The Metropolitan Council Transportation Advisory Board selects the projects to be funded, with the help of scoring committees that rank each project in various categories. The projects that rank the highest are most likely to be funded.
Prospective projects where the county requested funding include Highway 212 and 51 intersection safety improvements — a particularly dangerous spot that has seen four fatal crashes in the last ten years — pedestrian improvements in downtown Chaska and wet-reflective pavement markings on 56 miles of roadways throughout the county.
"Our county is the fastest growing in the state, and we get more and more vehicles, especially semis, coming through each year. People have waited a long time for this expansion and hopefully we can keep moving forward," Ische said.