Anoka County and the city of Ramsey want to remove traffic signals at two intersections along Hwy. 10 and replace them with grade-separated interchanges to eliminate bottlenecks that often form on the highway and roads feeding into it.
The Ramsey Gateway Project would also reduce crashes along the highly traveled corridor extending from Anoka on Ramsey's eastern border to Elk River on the west.
Construction is three years away, which will give officials time to secure the remainder of a total $138 million needed to upgrade crossings at NW. Sunfish Lake and Ramsey boulevards. They have about $90 million in state, county, city and federal funding.
The timetable also will allow time for officials to revise plans and solicit feedback from the public, which is underway. On Thursday, more than 130 people registered to watch a live open house with a presentation showing updated designs and discussion. Others can view plans online and give their two cents by March 5.
"We will take those comments and evaluate which ones we can address, then come back later in 2021 with a revised layout," said Joe MacPherson, an Anoka County traffic engineer.
The newest iteration includes roundabouts instead of traffic lights at the on- and off-ramps at both Sunfish Lake and Ramsey boulevards. Frontage roads will connect Sunfish Lake and Ramsey on both sides of Hwy. 10 to keep local trips off the highway. Both interchanges will include grade-separated pedestrian and bicycle crossings and facilities along the frontage road where none exist.
With 55,000 vehicles passing through Ramsey on Hwy. 10 — that's more than I-35W carries through Blaine and Lino Lakes — the project is high on the county's priority list. Traffic signals are already scheduled to be removed and interchanges rebuilt at Thurston and Fairoaks avenues to the east in Anoka by 2022. When that is complete, signals at Sunfish Lake and Ramsey will be the only two left to impede traffic flow on Hwy. 10 between I-35W in Mounds View and Elk River.
"All the issues at those intersections will move further downstream to Sunfish and Ramsey," MacPherson said.
The corridor is complicated. One of the state's busiest rail lines runs adjacent to the highway, and passing trains interfere with the signal sequence, limiting the amount of time for traffic movement. The result is standstill traffic on the highway and backups on county roads that spill onto local roads.
Vehicle crashes are common, with one about every eight days, on average. In the past six years, records show there have been more than 220 crashes leading to four deaths on the portion of Hwy. 10 that passes through Ramsey.
Follow news about traffic and commuting at The Drive on startribune.com. Got traffic or transportation questions, or story ideas? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @stribdrive or call Tim Harlow at 612-673-7768.