A long-awaited project to build a pedestrian span over Highway 169 in Shakopee got underway with a few symbolic shovels of dirt.

The bridge will be used to better help cyclists and pedestrians safely cross the busy thoroughfare.

“This bridge is an important connection point not only because it will connect the neighborhoods south of 169 to the other side of the city, but also because it can be difficult and dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists to use Stagecoach Road to get from one side of town to the other,” Shakopee Communications Manager Amanda McKnight said.

The bridge will also increase access to the Xcel Energy Mountain Bike Park at Quarry Lake.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday morning at Highway 169 near Wakefield Circle in Shakopee. Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake), Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL -Shakopee), Rep. Ben Bakeberg (R-Jordan), Scott County commissioners and Shakopee city councilors gathered with community members at the ceremony.

“Infrastructure is a long-term investment, and I’m proud we were able to take the first material steps in building this new pedestrian overpass,” Tabke said in a prepared statement. “The state being a partner on these local projects is one of the best ways we can directly invest in the jobs and resources Shakopee deserves. I’m thankful for the combined efforts of state and local leaders on this, and I expect we’ll be able to deliver on more local infrastructure improvements this year.”

The city received a $2 million state bonding grant toward the project. According to McKnight, the bridge is expected to be completed and able to open sometime this fall. Construction is not expected to have much of an impact on highway traffic.