Highway 36 will be closed for two months this spring and summer between Hwy. 61 and White Bear Avenue as part of a $30 million makeover of the road that also includes replacing traffic signals with an overpass at English Street.

Work on making Hwy. 36 a "limited access freeway" is set to begin later this month, the Minnesota Department of Transportation said.

An open house to show off plans for the project will be held from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Maplewood Community Center, 2100 White Bear Av. in Maplewood. Officials from MnDOT will also answer questions about the construction schedule and traffic staging.

Originally built in 1930s, more than 50,000 motorists each day now use the segment, which has become a key commuter route for residents in the northeast metro.

The project includes replacing traffic lights at English Street with a full diamond interchange, improving the intersection of County Road B and Hwy. 61, eliminating access to Hwy. 36 at Hazelwood and Atlantic Streets, and replacing the Bruce Vento Trail pedestrian and bicycle bridge. Several surrounding streets also will be redone.

The goal of the project is to improve safety and traffic flow. Statistics show that there have been 147 accidents at Hwy. 36 and English Street over a three-year period, a higher number than average, MnDOT officials have said.

A second project also is on the table for 2013. MnDOT will remove the signals at Hilton Trail in Mahtomedi and replace them with an overpass that carries Hwy. 36 traffic over Hilton Trail. The agency also will build roundabouts on either side of the interchange to direct drivers to frontage roads, Hilton Trail and Viking Drive.

Lanes on Hilton Trail will be closed for two to three months this summer, but minimal disruptions are expected on Hwy. 36, officials have said.

When the work is completed, Hwy. 36 will resemble a freeway between I-35W and 694 with signals remaining only at Hadley Avenue and Century Avenue.

The last major work in the area occurred in 2007 when Hwy. 36 was upgraded to a freeway design through North St. Paul.

Forest Lake Contracting will do the work.





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