MnDOT to completely close stretch of 169 for a year

Hwy. 169 work would replace old bridge

HOPKINS, Minn. - With all the road construction projects Minnesotans have been subjected to, one would suspect it would take something really outlandish to throw motorists for a serious loop.

This, however, could be the one to do it.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) announced Tuesday that a section of Highway 169 from Bren Road to 7th Street will be completely shut down -- we're talking all lanes -- for as long as a year. The closure will allow the complete re-construction of the bridge over Nine Mile Creek in Hopkins, Minnetonka and Edina. Project work is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2016, and continue through the fall of 2017, weather permitting.

Also included in the package is repaving more than six miles of 169 from Highway 55 to just north of Highway 62, adding acceleration and deceleration lanes at Cedar Lake Road. Noise walls and concrete barriers will also be repaired or replaced, and pedestrian access will be improved.

There is also a proposal to remove access to and from southbound 169 at 16th Street in St. Louis Park.

Estimated cost of the project is between $72 million and $87 million.

MnDOT says the advantages of a complete highway closure include:

  • Reduces construction impacts from 3 years to 1 year by consolidating all of the planned Hwy 169 projects
  • Allows construction to occur on Hwy 169 at a time when less construction is occurring on alternate routes.
  • Significantly reduces the risk to workers and motorists in the work zone.
  • Improves the quality of the construction.

An informational meeting will be held by MnDOT on Wednesday from 4-6 p.m. at the Hopkins Center for the Arts.

Traffic expert John Hourdos believes it's more efficient to rebuild the bridge all together, like MnDOT plans, instead of in parts.

"(You) demolish both pieces, you have more people working on it, you finish it in a third of the time," he said.

Hourdos, a University of Minnesota professor and director of the Minnesota Traffic Observatory, does worry where some of the traffic will go, specifically on Highway 100 just south of I-394.

"That location today is congested. So any additional vehicles they will be sending there, they're going to make that congestion bigger," he said.

But he admits there is not much of an alternative.

"These are necessary things, and bridges specifically cannot be avoided," he said.

MnDOT wants to finish the Highway 169 project before it started to rebuilt portions of I-35W in south Minneapolis near I-94, which is scheduled to begin in 2018.


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