Photo: Dignitaries at an October ribbon-cutting celebrated the completion of Hwy. 610, but work on the highway was not complete until this week. Another celebration is scheduled for Friday.
Good things come to those who wait, and for drivers in the north metro area a 40-year wait is over.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation says the final segment of Hwy. 610 will open Friday afternoon. When it does, motorists will be able to drive all the way from Hwy. 10/47 in Coon Rapids to Interstate 94 in Maple Grove.
It was back in October that Lt. Gov. Tina Smith and local, state and federal dignataries held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the $80 million project. At that time, MnDOT said the final 2.5-mile segment between County Road 81/Elm Creek Boulevard and Interstate 94 would open in mid-November. But we even had to wait another month after that.
Nicknamed the “North Crosstown,” the freeway was authorized by MnDOT in 1975, and the first 7-mile segment was completed in 2000. Another 2.5-mile segment westward to County Road 81 in Maple Grove opened in 2011.
Work on the final 2.5-mile stretch began in 2014 and included building a bridge over Fernbrook Lane and an interchange at Maple Grove Parkway. A half-mile segment of 101st Avenue North between I-94 and Fernbrook Lane was moved, while 105th Avenue was extended west from Holly Lane across I-94 to a new intersection with 101st Avenue.
City officials have hailed Hwy. 610 as “critical to business development in the area.” The road has also is expected to take pressure off the parallel I-94 to I-694 artery, which carries about 115,000 vehicles a day.
At the outset, the connection at I-94 will only allow westbound 610 drivers to access westbound I-94, while eastbound 94 drivers will only be able to access eastbound 610. Future plans call for additional ramps to complete the interchange, but right now “that is not funded,” MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard said in October.
In a related development, I-94 at 101st Avenue will be closed Dec. 16 to 18 to allow crews to knock down the old 101st Avenue bridge. Traffic will be detoured along the new Hwy. 610 and Hwy. 169.