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Few traffic snags with first day of Hwy. 169 bridge closure in Edina

Photo: City of Edina

By most accounts, traffic flowed reasonably well in the southwest metro on Monday morning, the first day of the dreaded Nine Mile Creek bridge closure that will impact more than 90,000 drivers daily.

No major traffic snarls developed on I-494, I-394 or Hwy. 100, the alternate routes MnDOT is directing motorists to use to get around the closure of the bridge on Hwy. 169 between Bren Road and Lincoln Drive on the Minnetonka-Edina border.

We still have the afternoon drive home to see how the bridge closure will affect how traffic disburses. And there is one additional wrinkle that might catch some motorists off guard. The ramp from westbound I-394 to southbound Hwy. 169 also closed Monday. So drivers who need to get to places such as Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and south of the Minnesota River will need to exit at Hwy. 100 or go all the way out to I-494.

MnDOT's David Aeikens also notes that folks can also go north on Hwy. 169 to Hwy. 55, then turn around and go back south on Hwy. 169 if absolutely necessary to access exits at Cedar Lake Road, Minnetonka Boulevard, Hwy. 7 and Excelsior Boulevard.

For day one, however, "it all looked good on the freeway system," said MnDOT's Brian Kary. "We have not heard too much from motorists."

He said people likely gave themselves extra time, which may have helped things out.

A spokeswoman for the city of St. Louis Park said traffic moved normally along city and county streets Monday morning.  The Drive was checking with Edina and Minnetonka to see if any traffic issues developed on local roads in those communities.

Edina Police did send out a tweet Monday warning drivers to slow down, plan enough time and that there would be a heavy police presence in the area around the bridge closure. Sgt. Kevin Rofidal with the city's police department said there was an uptick in traffic on Malibu Drive, Parkwood Drive and Dovre Drive, but nothing too unmanageable. Police will be keeping an eye on things. They've also put out portable cameras and radar machines along a few routes.

The ingredients are there for a worse commute Tuesday and Wednesday as rain and snow mix moves in Tuesday morning, then turning to all snow Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Demolition of the Nine Mile Creek bridge got under way in the early morning darkness and will continue daily between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. It will take about a month to knock down the current bridge. It will be replaced with a causeway and will take eight months to build.

This spring, Hwy. 169  will be down to one lane in both directions between Hwy. 55 and Lincoln Drive and from Bren Road to the Crosstown as the agency rehabs 6 miles of pavement. Ramps at 7th Street, Excelsior Boulevard, Hwy. 7, Cedar Lake Road and 36th Street will be closed for two weeks at various times through the summer.

 

It's now Monday for Hwy. 169's Nine Mile Creek bridge closing

Yes, we've heard this before, but this time the Minnesota Department of Transportation seems fairly certain that the Nine Mile Creek bridge on Hwy. 169 will close Monday.

And bright and early, too. Officially lanes across the bridge between Bren Road and Lincoln Drive in Edina will shut down at 2 a.m. Crews will start setting up barricades and cones around 8 p.m. Sunday night, so watch for traffic impacts as the highway is reduced to a single lane in the area leading to the bridge.

The bridge will be replaced with a causeway and will take nine months to build.

"Rush hour folks will see the full closure," said spokesman David Aeikens. The only way they would not is if something unforseen pops up over the weekend. "Hopefully they have their routes planned."

What is more likely to catch drivers off guard is that the ramp from westbound I-394 to southbound Hwy. 169 also will close Monday. Additionally, southbound Hwy. 169 will see a new lane configuration from Hwy. 55 down to I-394.  All traffic in the right lane of southbound Hwy. 169 will be diverted onto westbound I-394, while through traffic will be shifted to the left lane. Barricades will prevent last-second lane switches.

The idea is to limit the number of southbound motorists using the portion of Hwy. 169 between I-394 and 5th Street/Lincoln Drive and steer them onto I-394 and I-494, Aeikens said.

This is the third time MnDOT has announced the bridge closing. The first scheduled for Jan. 10 was pushed back a week due to cold and snowy weather. Last week MnDOT delayed the closure because utility wires under the bridge had not been removed. They are still there, but MnDOT can work around them, Aeikens said.

The agency needs to get started on the project so it can get it done before the end of the construction season in October. MnDOT has sent postcards to about 200 residents who live nearby alerting them that work may take place anytime between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. So it might be loud for the next month as the current bridge comes down.