Five grants totaling $18 million were awarded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) on Monday to communities throughout the state for highway projects intended to boost local business.

The cities of Chaska, Dayton and Cloquet, and Washington and Scott counties received the grants, part of the state's Transportation Economic Development program. The state money will help leverage additional funds from federal, local and private sources for construction worth $124 million, according to MnDOT.

MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said in a statement the program "will help deliver infrastructure improvements that enhance business growth opportunities around Minnesota," and create jobs, as well.

In Washington County, the funds will be used for the interchange at Hwy. 36 and Manning Avenue to improve access to planned development in the area, including a future Lakeview Hospital complex, a grocery store and other businesses. The project is expected to create 360 jobs within five years, MnDOT said.

The Hwy. 41 reconstruction project in downtown Chaska received funds from the program to add turn lanes and on-street parking to promote a safer driving environment.

Funds will also go toward construction of the Dayton Parkway interchange on Interstate 94 in the northwest Twin Cities metro, which is expected to begin next year.

In Scott County, program funds will be used for a grade-separated interchange, additional frontage roads and access ramps along Hwy. 13 near Dakota and Yosemite avenues in Savage. The interchange will support the ports of Savage, an intermodal hub used for transporting grain, commodities and other commercial products from southwestern Minnesota.

Cloquet received funds to build a new intersection at Hwy. 33 and Gillette Road, a project expected to be completed in May 2022.

A total of $20 million is available through the program. MnDOT said it will solicit proposals for more projects in greater Minnesota next year for the remaining funds.

Janet Moore