If you drive in the Twin Cities, start planning now – part of Highway 169 will be closed for the next nine months.
Both directions of the highway between Bren Road and 7th Street will close Jan. 10 as the Minnesota Department of Transportation replaces the Nine Mile Creek bridge in the area of Hopkins, Minnetonka and Edina.
Nearly 90,000 drivers who cross the bridge each day will have to find another way to get around, the Star Tribune says, which means traffic on nearby highways and interstates like Highway 62, Highway 100, Interstate 394, Interstate 494 and smaller highways will be affected through the fall, MnDOT notes.
This comes just when traffic started to get back to normal in the area following the completion of major construction projects on nearby Highway 100 and Interstate 494. Groan.
But wait, there's more
Replacing the Nine Mile Creek bridge with a causeway isn't the only thing that'll happen with this $64 million project. Improvements will be made on 169 between Golden Valley and Eden Prairie. Here are the details:
- Repairing pavement on 169 between Highway 55 and Highway 62. This will happen in the spring, and will force MnDOT to reduce the highway to just one lane in each direction.
- Ramp closures at 7th Street, Excelsior Boulevard, Cedar Lake Road, Highway 7, West 36th Street and the southbound exit of Minnetonka Boulevard will be closed for about two weeks at a time (not at the same time though) to make various improvements, including making it easier for pedestrians to get around.
- Lengthen the merging lanes on Highway 169 at Cedar Lake Road.
- Closing the southbound ramps at 169 and 16th Street in St. Louis Park – for good.
- Adding a visual barrier to shield St. Louis Park residents from the highway.
Don't take 169 if you don't have to
Yes, this is going to be annoying, and MnDOT admits that. The agency says doing all of these projects at once will help crews get it done faster – in less than a year, compared to the three years it would take to do everything separately.
But in the meantime, make it easy for yourself and avoid 169 if you can.
“We want to keep people who don’t live, work or have business out of the area,” David Aeikens of MnDOT told the Star Tribune. “I would not use Hwy. 169 if I didn’t have to. It’s going to be challenging.”
The paper suggests using this week – when traffic is still kind of in a lull following the holidays – to test out alternate routes, which could help prevent some headaches next week when the road closes.
All of these projects are expected to be completed by the end of September or early October, weather permitting, MnDOT says. For more details and updates on the project, check out MnDOT's website here or watch this video.