Hwy. 110 is now a piece of Minnesota history.
Last month the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) finished installing new signs that officially proclaim the road that runs through Mendota Heights, Sunfish Lake and West St. Paul as part of Crosstown Hwy. 62.
MnDOT announced last year that it would change Hwy. 110 to 62 to allow the busy east-west route to retain the same number from end to end — from Interstate 494 in Minnetonka to Interstate 494 in Inver Grove Heights.
With the renumbering, MnDOT is hoping to ease the confusion caused when drivers leaving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport could not find Hwy. 62. Others were flummoxed by route numbers that changed three times in a short span as they crossed the Mendota Bridge.
“You could stay in the same lane, never change lanes and be on three different highways,” said MnDOT spokeswoman Kirsten Klein.
Before the change, Crosstown Hwy. 62 became Hwy. 55 at Hiawatha Avenue, which continues across the Mendota Bridge. On the east end of the bridge, the highway continues east into Mendota Heights as Hwy. 110 as Hwy. 55 splits off into Eagan.
With the switch, the entire 22-mile route will have one number. The segment between Hiawatha Avenue and the east end of the Mendota Bridge will be marked with signs as both Hwy. 62 and Hwy. 55 and will run together.
MnDOT held meetings and sent letters to homes and businesses in the area to announce the change. “People will get used to it,” Klein said.
Kristen Labin, a teacher at SonShine Learning Center in Mendota Heights, said parents dropping off kids at the preschool along the highway have adapted to the change just fine. “They all know where it is,” she said.
But not everybody got the memo. A woman recently called MnDOT to say she could not find her doctor’s office, unaware that the highway number had changed, Klein said.
Sharp-eyed motorists will notice that references to 110 have not totally disappeared. “Old 110” signs mounted on the side of the highway will stay up for about a year to help motorists make the transition, Klein said. Apps and navigation systems such as MapQuest, Google Maps and TomTom already reflect the change.
However, paper maps that MnDOT handed out at the State Fair still have the highway labeled as 110 because of the timing.
“The change would not have been made since they were printed last year,” Klein said.
Hwy. 110 has a long history. From 1934 to 1965, the road was known as Hwy. 100 and was part of the original beltway circling the Twin Cities. In 1965, the 5.8-mile segment was renumbered to Hwy. 110. When the I-694/494 bypass was built later, Hwy. 110 served as the missing link along I-494 until the portion of the freeway from Hwy. 55 to Hwy. 3 in Inver Grove Heights was completed in the mid-1980s.
A few drivers fond of Hwy. 110 have asked why MnDOT didn’t keep Hwy. 110 and renumber the Crosstown, because there is another state Hwy. 62 that runs 30 miles from Fulda to Windom.
“It’s easier to change a few signs and change 110 to 62,” Klein said.
And at $30,000 for new signs, less costly, too.
The original Hwy. 110 road signs are a hot commodity. MnDOT has been getting requests for them. But collectors will have to be patient: The signs won’t be for sale until next summer, Klein said.
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.