After almost exactly two years, the Highway 169 and Highway 41/County Road 78 interchange is wrapping up construction.
On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the crossroad and bridge opened to traffic in all directions.
Cleanup work will continue for another six weeks or so, said Construction & Design Manager Jake Balk with the Scott County Highway Department. The interchange is now fully open to drivers and pedestrians during that cleanup work.
The project’s main feature is a diamond interchange, one of seven in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). These types of bridge roadways are often used to cross a freeway over a less-used road.
With close to 80,000 vehicles per day traversing that stretch, Balk said it’s a more traffic-sensitive option than stoplights or a roundabout.
Those traveling on Highway 41, which now goes under the Highway 169 bridge, can now wait for far less time than before to get to the other side of Highway 169, he said. Both directions of traffic on Highway 41 and County Road 78 cross to the opposite side of the bridge under U.S. Highway 169.
Drivers won’t make hard left turns, but veer left for access.
“Before, you came up to the stoplight. You could go if there was a gap, (but) you have gaps now to kind of merge onto the highway,” he said.
MnDOT says diamond interchanges make roadways safer and less congested (up to 60% less traffic). But to some, it could be a confusing change.
“A (diverging diamond interchange) might feel a bit unusual at first, but with patience and practice, navigating this new way of travel will get easier with each trip,” the Scott County website states.
The project stayed within its budget for both timeline and finances, Balk said, with expenses landing within 5% of anticipated costs.
A video on how to navigate a diamond interchange, progress photos and more information is available at Scott County’s construction project website.