A tough year is on the way for those who travel Highway 169 in the metro.
Beginning this fall and running through the fall of 2017, several construction projects will take place on the highway between Highway 55 and Highway 62. The work will require some lane and ramp closures, and a roughly one-mile stretch of the roadway will be closed for up to one year.
News of additional, intensive construction on a major north-south highway is unwelcome for many motorists in the west metro after dealing with closures on Highway 100, Interstate 494 and County Road 101 last year. Nick Carpenter, public affairs coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said work on Highway 100 will be complete, and all major closures on Interstate 494 will be over by the time the Highway 169 projects begin. While taking on multiple projects at once means there will be about 12 months of traffic impacts on the highway, completing the projects at different times could have resulted in about three years of impacts, according to MnDOT officials.
The biggest project will be replacing the approximately 3,000-foot long Nine Mile Bridge. Out of all the projects, it is the one that is expected to begin this year, probably in November. The work will take up to a year to complete, and while construction is under way, Highway 169 between Bren Road and 7th Street (the 5th Street-Lincoln Drive exit) will be closed.
Carpenter said the bridge is being replaced due to its deteriorating condition, which is being caused by age and drainage deficiencies. A causeway, which is a raised road that is supported by fill rather than piers, will replace the bridge. Carpenter said there are environmental benefits to building a causeway, including improved stormwater quality and management, a quieter road surface and minimized wetland, floodplain and parkland impacts. A causeway will also be cheaper to build than a bridge, and it could reduce the project cost by $5 to $15 million. Fewer maintenance costs over time are also expected with a causeway.
The causeway will be built so in the future it can accommodate six lanes of traffic. MnDOT officials are currently studying Highway 169 from Shakopee to the Twin Cities to identify and evaluate options for improving transit and reducing congestion.
Further north on the highway, the entrance and exit ramps at Cedar Lake Road will be lengthened, leading to a temporary closure of the ramps. MnDOT officials say the current ramp lengths aren’t safe, and there were 24 crashes in the area between 2009 and 2011.
After work on the Cedar Lake Road ramps is finished, the southbound ramps at 16th Street, just south of Interstate 394, will be permanently closed. The ramps are a safety concern for several reasons, including short ramp lengths and tight curves that limit driver sight distance and affect reaction times. Officials say there were 17 crashes and 25 sign collisions in the area between 2010 and 2014.
Additionally, pavement and noise walls will be repaired throughout the stretch from Highway 55 to Highway 62 during 2017.
The estimated cost for the project is between $72 to $87 million. Firmer numbers will be available after the project is sent out to bid in July.