For Hwy. 169 commuters, this is no joke.
Work starts April 1 to remove the last traffic bottleneck on the highway from Shakopee through the rebuilt Devil’s Triangle in Brooklyn Park to that city’s northern border with Champlin.
A $17 million interchange project will remove the last stoplights at 93rd Avenue (County Road 30) and carry the road by bridge over 169, with two loops for on and off ramps.
More than 70,000 commuters a day travel through the accident-prone intersection, which has been in the state’s top 10 for crashes. The crossroads had nearly 110 crashes from 2005 to 2009, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
“I think the entire northwest area will be happy” when the new interchange opens in November, said Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde.He said Hwy. 169 will become a freeway without traffic lights from Shakopee all the way to 109th Street in Champlin, a distance of 30 miles.
Currently, northbound traffic on Hwy. 169 backs up during evening rush hour from the 93rd Avenue lights a mile or more south through the new Devil’s Triangle interchange, which opened in 2011 at 85th Avenue and County 81.
Lights were removed last fall from Hwy. 169 at Interstate 494 when that $125 million mega-interchange opened in Bloomington.
Brooklyn Park won a $6 million legislative bond to launch the 93rd Avenue interchange sooner than MnDOT had planned. The project was further expedited because the city and Hennepin County agreed to split $6.6 million in land acquisition costs, said agency spokeswoman Bobbie Dahlke.
She said MnDOT awarded the $8.2 million construction contract to C.S. McCrossan in December. Most of the contract is covered by the state bond, and MnDOT will pay about $4.3 million of the $16.9 million project cost, Dahlke said.
About 13 acres of right-of-way was acquired, consisting mostly of the nearly century-old Fischbach farm in the northeast corner of the intersection, said Brooklyn Park traffic engineer Jeff Holstein. Area residents have bought corn, pumpkins and Christmas trees for decades at the farm. The city helped relocate 92-year-old Nellie Fischbach from the farmhouse.
Holstein said the new interchange will enable the Devil’s Triangle interchange and the Hwy. 610 interchange to the north to flow more smoothly.
The congestion eliminated by the project also will boost efforts by Brooklyn Park to attract new businesses to the largely undeveloped land north of 93rd Avenue, said Mayor Lunde. “It’s huge for companies looking at that area,” he said.