Ports of Savage

The shipping terminals on the Minnesota River in Savage handle millions of tons of grain and other commodities each year. A major interchange construction project getting underway at Highway 13 and Dakota Avenue aims to improve safety and access to the critical agricultural corridor.

Construction season arrived in Savage this month, with site preparation beginning for a major interchange project at Highway 13 and Dakota Avenue.

The interchange aims to improve safety, reduce congestion and create better access to the city’s bustling shipping ports on the Minnesota River.

The highway will be brought down to one lane in either direction during the first phase of construction this spring, summer and early fall, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Construction work is expected to begin in early May with tree removal and other site preparation already completed this month.

Savage City Engineer Seng Thongvanh said drivers will notice delays and disruptions in the Highway 13 corridor during construction, including the closure of the Dakota Avenue and Yosemite Avenue access points to the Minnesota River terminals.

Freight trucks lining up to enter the ports will instead need to maneuver a detour at Quentin Avenue during construction.

KEY CORRIDOR

Millions of tons of grain and other commodities are delivered to Savage’s river ports annually to access critical barge shipping docks and rail corridors.

Around 90% of the product brought to the shipping hub arrives via truck, according to a 2017 study.

Tom Ryan, global director of corporate communications with CHS Inc., said infrastructure investments such as the interchange project are vital to making the U.S. farmer even more competitive globally.

“We recognize the short-term disruptions that projects like this will cause, but welcome the supply chain efficiency increases that will result from this investment,” Ryan said in a statement to Southwest News Media.

Highway 13 & Dakota Avenue interchange

A rendering of the Highway 13 and Dakota Avenue interchange project as presented to the Savage City Council in April, 2021. Rendering may not show details of the final design.

Past investments in the highway corridor, such as interchanges at Highway 101 and County Road 5, improved travel times on Highway 13, but haven’t solved all the roadway’s challenges.

With crash rates above state averages and high volumes of freight traffic, state and local transportation officials are continuing to study other improvements to the corridor, with plans to pursue other major projects after completing the interchange at Dakota Avenue.

Improvements to the Quentin Avenue intersection might be next as MnDOT continues studying a series of improvements to the Highway 13 corridor between Highway 169 and Burnsville’s Nicollet Avenue

Savage City Administrator Brad Larson said one design being considered would create another grade-separated interchange at Highway 13 and Quentin Avenue.

With more cars on Quentin, a roundabout might also be needed at McColl Drive, a consultant told city officials recently.

Larson planned to testify before the Legislature on a bill requesting state bonds to replace the old railroad bridge running over Quentin Avenue.

Canadian Pacific Railway sold the bridge to the city in 2008, but maintains the right-of-way. Stop signs before the low-clearance bridge are likely to create worsening bottle necks as traffic volumes on the roadway increase.

PROJECT TIMELINE

After the construction season, four lanes will open again to Highway 13 drivers late next fall when construction activities on the Dakota Avenue interchange are delayed for the winter.

In spring 2023, traffic will again be restricted to two lanes on the highway until the project is complete sometime in the late fall or early winter.

The project is estimated to cost roughly $33 million, according to Thongvanh.

In an email to the newspaper, Savage Mayor Janet Williams said she’s looking forward to the overpass, which will improve safety in the area.

Williams expressed appreciation for city staff, Scott County and the county’s transportation sales tax, MnDOT and the federal government for support throughout the long process.

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