Motorists in the southwest metro know that it's not easy to get across the Minnesota River with crossings few and far between. Take one out of service and alternate routes hve to pick up the slack.
That's been the case this week on Hwys. 13, 101 and 169 , through Shakopee, Savage and Bloomington. This week crews from Carver County and MnDOT shut down the crossing linking downtown Shakopee and the County 61 interchange in Chanhassen, a route used by about 20,000 vehicles a day. The road is scheduled to be open by Wednesday's morning rush hour, said Darin Mielke, deputy engineer for Carver County Public Works.
Many of those drivers have opted to use Hwy. 41 through Chaska. Others such as Doug Hoffert say they've been entangled in log jams on Hwy. 169 and Hwy. 101 akin to those seen during last year's floods or a snowstorm.
Throw in a crash or a spectacular car fire like one on Thursday morning at Hwy. 101 and 13, and all the ingredients are there for insane levels of traffic.
Drivers have been asking why the road had to be closed in the first place since the road was open briefly last week and is not impacted by a new bridge being built next to it.
According to Mielke, soil conditions on the approach from the Shakopee side of the new bridge are poor, and crews are bringing in lightweight fill to stabilize things. The project's Facebook page says motorists will be driving on five feet of styrofoam blocks. The material will reduce the likelihood of the road settling too much over time.
To get those blocks in place, crews need extra room. And nobody wants vehicles driving too close to the edge of the road where a 10-foot or more drop off. "There is a safety issue there," Mielke said.
Commuters in Chanhassen, Chaska, Shakopee and points west have been dealing with closures in the area for months. Portions of County Road 61 have been closed and 'it's not been the greatest detour," Mielke said. Even when Hwy. 101 between County 61 and Shakopee reopens, motorists will have to deal with a makeshift intersection at 101 and 61, Mielke said.
But, he points out, the end is near.
While the road is closed this week, crews are finishing concrete pours for the new four-lane bridge to raise the roadway out of the 100-year flood elevation. The last 300 feet of the bridge deck is expected to be poured by Tuesday. That means the bridge should open by Nov. 24, the advertised date.
"You've gone through the brunt of the worst and you're almost to the end," he said.