The Minnesota Department of Transportation will put a new deck on the Smith Avenue High Bridge later this year, and in the process will upgrade its curb appeal.

That's where community members come in. MnDOT will host an open house to allow residents to provide input on aesthetic design options under consideration. The meeting will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 7 in the community room at Bad Weather Brewery, 414 W. 7th St. in St. Paul.

Work on the $22 million project is slated to begin in the fall and also includes resurfacing Smith Avenue/Dodd Road - also known as Hwy. 149 - between W. 7th Street and Interstate 494 in Mendota Heights. Five intersections along the route will get new traffic signals. A new left turn lane from westbound I-494 to southbound Dodd Road will be added. MnDOT also will improve drainage, build better sidewalks and upgrade pedestrian accessibility. Ash trees in the project area also will be removed.

All that work, of course, will mean the High Bridge will be closed for one entire construction season, from the fall of 2017 to the fall of 2018.

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