Drive reader Jodie avoids using the on-ramp leading from N. Ply­mouth Avenue to northbound Hwy. 169 in Golden Valley.

The ramp is so short, she said, that motorists can’t always get up to speed before they run out of room to merge.

“Traffic is crazy and I feel this spot is very dangerous,” Jodie said in an e-mail to the Drive.

She recently had to use the ramp during an off-peak period and felt like she took her life in her hands as she anxiously tried to squeeze onto the highway as traffic whizzed by.

“You really are at the mercy of other drivers to be allowed to merge and not have to just stop,” she said. “I bet many people have had a fright. I’m going to try to avoid [it].”

A portion of the highway to the south of Plymouth Avenue recently saw a fix to a similar problem.

When the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) rebuilt the deteriorating Nine Mile Creek bridge in Edina two years ago, it also reconstructed more than 6 miles of Hwy. 169 between Hwy. 62 and Hwy. 55.

As part of that work, the agency extended acceleration and deceleration lanes on Hwy. 169 at Cedar Lake Road. Before, the ramps at Cedar Lake Road in St. Louis Park had characteristics similar to those at Plymouth Avenue: sharp turns and only a few hundred feet to merge. After the rebuild, the sharp curves remain, but drivers now have a lot longer merge lane, also known as an auxiliary lane.

Jodie wonders if improvements at Plymouth Avenue are on MnDOT’s radar.

Yes, they are, but not for another five years, according to MnDOT spokesman David Aeikens.

He said there have only been “a few crashes” reported in the area that were related to the merge area. Still, MnDOT has identified the need for an auxiliary lane between Plymouth Avenue and the next exit a mile to the north at Medicine Lake Road.

“The merge area is short and it can be difficult to find a gap with the traffic volumes on [Hwy.] 169,” Aeikens said.

Aeikens said MnDOT is looking to add the auxiliary lane when it tackles another nearby project, but the earliest opportunity to do that is not until 2024.

MSP airport tops once again

Journalist Gayle King gushed on Instagram about the stylish bathrooms at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in January.

“And the award for the best bathroom goes to Minneapolis-St. Paul,” the co-host of “CBS This Morning” said in a video.

The accolades keep coming.

The latest comes from the Airports Council International, which recently named MSP the Best Airport in North America among those that handle 25 million to 40 million passengers a year. This is the third straight year MSP has won the top honor, although this year it shared the prize with Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport.

The award comes from rankings of the world’s airports by region and size and are based on customer surveys covering check-in, security, restrooms, stores, restaurants and other facilities.

The praise lands as the busy spring break travel period hits its peak. The airport is expecting higher-than-average passenger volume this week with as many as 40,000 to 45,000 passengers going through security checkpoints daily, said airport spokesman John Welbes.

Passengers should allow two hours to check in luggage and pass through security.

 

Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail drive@startribune.com, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.