Detours and weekend and nightly closures are coming to a stretch of Hwy. 12 in the west metro this fall and they may be welcome.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation on Wednesday will hold an open house at Orono City Hall to outline its plans to install concrete median barrier to separate eastbound and westbound traffic between County Road 112 in Long Lake and County Road 6 in Orono. MnDOT officials will take questions and talk about traffic impacts from 5 to 7 p.m. at 2750 Kelley Parkway.
Members of the Highway 12 Safety Coalition have been pushing for the wall along the 3½-mile segment of the two-lane highway that has seen several fatal and serious injury crashes over the past five years, including three in three days last August. The coalition is composed of composed of law enforcement members and representatives of 12 communities and two sheriff’s offices tired of seeing people die on Hwy. 12.
About 24,000 vehicles a day travel on the narrow stretch of Hwy. 12 from Wayzata to the Hennepin-Wright County line. It is one of the most dangerous segments or roadway in the metro with three wrecks resulting in death or serious injury for every 100,000 vehicle miles traveled, or nearly twice the rate of 1.57 wrecks on similar two-lane highways in the state, according to a 2015 safety audit conducted by the state Department of Transportation.
There have been 23 deaths along the corridor since 2011. More than 60 percent of fatal or incapacitating crashes identified by the audit were head-on crashes, and 40 percent of those occurred in the Orono, Long Lake, Maple Plain and Independence areas, the audit found.
MnDOT will spend $2.3 million to build the barrier.
Last week, the agency started installing left turn lanes at the north and south junctions of County Road 92. Both projects are aimed at making travel safer along the highway which has earned the nickname "The Corridor of Death."