An open house at the Washington County Government Center this week that was to feature the official unveiling of construction plans for the proposed Hwy. 36/Manning Avenue interchange has been canceled due to coronavirus concerns. But rest assured, the project’s still on.
Considered Washington County’s top priority for legislative funding, the interchange where Stillwater, Grant and Lake Elmo meet was earmarked for a $10 million Transportation Economic Development grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, local officials learned late last year.
The project now has all but $3 million of its estimated $32 million cost secured, and county officials are looking to the Legislature this session for the last piece of funding. In addition to the state funding, the project’s costs would be covered by the federal government, Washington County and local funds.
The project would break ground next year and wrap up by 2023, said County Engineer Wayne Sandberg.
“It looks like it’s all going to pull together,” said County Commissioner Gary Kriesel, whose district includes the heavily trafficked intersection.
Hwy. 36 is one of the main routes into and out of Stillwater for anyone traveling to or from the Twin Cities, and traffic has steadily grown along with the nearby suburbs and Stillwater itself. A traffic light now controls the intersection.
The new interchange would send Manning Avenue traffic over Hwy. 36 on a new bridge, and the traffic light would be replaced with exit and entrance ramps onto and off the highway. A frontage road planned to the south of Hwy. 36 would connect Manning to Hwy. 5.
The new interchange also would accommodate bicycling and pedestrian access along Manning Avenue, as well as access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In addition to the new interchange, several development projects have been proposed for the intersection.
Lakeview Hospital officials shared a concept with the Stillwater City Council in 2017 that would place a 96-bed hospital, medical office building, senior housing and same-day surgery center northeast of the intersection on a 68-acre parcel the hospital purchased for future development.
Those plans for the site are on hold for now, but someday it could become the location for a replacement for Lakeview’s current building near Lily Lake in Stillwater, hospital officials have said.
On the southeast corner of the intersection, the Hy-Vee grocery chain wants to build a supermarket, gas station and convenience store, city officials have been told.
The public should be able to view the interchange drawings on a county website later this week (co.washington.mn.us/2819/Public-Involvement). The website lists an e-mail and phone number for feedback and questions.