Old Hwy. 212 through Eden Prairie, Chanhassen and Chaska will lose its familiar route numbers this summer when the road built to replace it -- the new Hwy. 312 -- is finished.
With a change of about 100 signs, the old state highway will become County Road 61, and the new 312 will become Hwy. 212.
Eden Prairie is seizing upon the name switch as an opportunity to address the "lost in Eden Prairie'' problem that many drivers experience when taking Hwy. 212 in the southwestern suburb.
When the old Hwy. 212 designation goes away, Eden Prairie wants to play up the city's name for the road -- Flying Cloud Drive -- to help drivers find their way more easily.
Flying Cloud Drive signs have not been visible along the highway in the past, though businesses generally have used Flying Cloud street addresses along with Hwy. 212 addresses. This has contributed to driver confusion, said Eden Prairie traffic engineer Randy Newton.
County designations often are secondary to street names, Newton said, and city officials want to keep the "County Road 61" name secondary to Flying Cloud Drive.
"We need to make sure that Flying Cloud Drive is visible and known for this stretch of road,'' Newton said.
In a related project, the city is planning to install 40 to 50 more directional signs, at a cost estimated at $50,000, along connecting local roads to help drivers find their way around Eden Prairie's winding streets and back to major freeways, Newton said.
Chaska, too, is using the opportunity to rechristen its segment of the road, which is known only as Hwy. 212 in Chaska. It will call the road Chaska Boulevard to more closely identify it with the city and to improve address numbering for police and fire calls, said city engineer Bill Monk.
But the name change will require 31 businesses and 11 homes in Chaska to change their addresses from Hwy. 212 to Chaska Boulevard.
In Chanhassen, the highway is already known as Flying Cloud Drive and will keep that name when it loses the Hwy. 212 designation.
The new county road designation was chosen carefully to minimize confusion. County Road 61 is a continuation of the route along Shady Oak Road through Minnetonka.
"Because of the difficulty of getting people around this area, we didn't want to introduce another new number,'' said Rod Rue, assistant city engineer for Eden Prairie.
To accustom drivers to the switch, the old road will bear both the County Road 61 and Hwy. 212 names for a while this summer.
The new Hwy. 312 will be finished and open to Carver in July, said Charles Cadenhead, manager of the project for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
On the new stretch, MnDOT is putting up Hwy. 212 signs but temporarily covering them with a plate bearing the 312 number. When it's time to change over the names, MnDOT will take off the plates, Cadenhead said.
Once the old road is turned over to Hennepin and Carver counties, Carver County plans to work with Chanhassen and Chaska to make it safer, said Carver County engineer Roger Gustafson.
One option that would be considered is whether there is space to add a frontage road in busy locations where driveways open onto the highway.
Laurie Blake • 612-673-1711