Arden Hills council voices road construction fatigue


A diagram depicts the traffic flow of a diverging diamond interchange at County Road 96 and Interstate 35W. (Graphic courtesy of Ramsey County)

As road construction at the interchange between County Road 96 and U.S. Highway 10 in Arden Hills continues to snarl traffic within the city, council members, during a work session following the April 28 regular meeting, said they’d nearly had it with the prospect of more choking construction.

“Our community has been through hell with road construction,” council member Brenda Holden said to Beth Engum, a project manager from Ramsey County who was outlining plans for the possible reconstruction of the County Road 96 bridge over Interstate 35W in 2015.

“What the hell else is going to happen?” Holden said. “I have residents that are going to have nervous breakdowns.”

Holden’s questions emerged as Engum detailed design options for the bridge renovation. The county’s plans for a diverging diamond interchange at 96 and 35W, a newer traffic control design which reduces conflict points and is thus safer as well as less expensive, were overshadowed by concerns of more traffic delays.

Faced with Holden’s resistance, Engum said the county would most likely resist shutting the bridge down during the work week by limiting the number of lanes during most times and closing the bridge completely only on weekends.

Mayor David Grant echoed Holden’s concerns as bridge projects are also planned for County Road F and County Road E in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

“You take out a bridge, it’s a big impact. You close down two and you’re at your pain threshold,” Grant said.

The end is near

The construction at the intersection between County Road 96 and U.S. Highway 10, the source of much suffering for Arden Hills residents according to the council, is nearly complete.

Assistant City Engineer John Anderson said “substantial completion” of the construction is scheduled to be finished on or around June 10. Anderson says an operational traffic light should be in place by June 10 as well.

Plans to mitigate congestion at the stop sign-controlled intersection such as opening more lanes or having a sheriff direct traffic during rush hour were discussed at a previous meeting. Anderson says the Minnesota Department of Transportation,

Ramsey County and the road construction company all rejected the idea of opening more lanes.

Council member Dave McClung said he observed a sheriff’s deputy directing traffic at the intersection on Friday, April 25, though he said he saw no improvement in the congestion.

“I go out of my way no to avoid that route,” McClung said.

Mayor Grant instructed Anderson to tell Ramsey County that the deputy directing traffic “didn’t seem to have any positive impact.”

Anderson also told the council of the county’s plans to resurface Hamline Avenue between Country Road 96 and County Road F, which would take place in mid-May. He said the project should take a few weeks and would not require a closure on the thoroughfare, as construction would occur on only one side of the road at a time.

Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7824.

 

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