by Bob Grawey
Rogers City Administrator Steve Stahmer and that city’s engineer, Bret Weiss, have requested $100,000 from Otsego to help cover pre-construction expenses for a $22 million project on Highway 101.
They made that request at a May 9 workshop to discuss the project that would remove signal lights from the last intersection going north on 101 out of Rogers and Hassan.
The intersection creates a bottleneck for northbound commuters during night rush hour.
In addition to that traffic problem, semi trailer truck drivers make U-turns at the 101/County Road 144/141st Avenue N intersection to get back into Rogers after coming through on the 101 flyover.
It causes safety concerns, especially for school children who routinely use the intersection on their way to school.
The project would get rid of the signals and create freeway type ramp access points between 101 and 144 and 141st.
So far, Rogers has secured a $9 million safety and mobility grant from the state.
The city is also seeking a $7 million STP federal grant as well as $2 million from Hennepin County as 144 is a county road.
Otsego city staff noted at the June 13 city council meeting that many of Otsego’s children attend school at Rogers Middle School and Rogers High School down County Road 144, and at Hassan Elementary School the opposite direction down 141st Avenue.
Otsego City Planner Dan Licht wrote in a memo to city council, “…the proposed project would greatly improve the safety for children attending these school facilities whether driven by bus, parents or in their own vehicles.”
Licht also noted a majority of Otsego residents commute down 101 to Interstate 94 to get to jobs in the Twin City metro area. He added the project would reduce resident’s commute time.
Improved traffic flows would create better access to Otsego businesses, too, and such a project would coincide with planned improvements to 70th Street in Otsego.
Those improvements will eventually create a strong alternate east/west route between 101 and 94.
Otsego approved the funding request in a 4-1 vote with council member Vern Heidner voting against the measure.
Negotiations over terms of the joint agreement have yet to be worked out and will need future council approval.