by Joni Astrup
Work will start this fall on a project designed to reduce congestion on I-94 between Rogers and St. Michael.
The project will cost $35 to $46 million. Bids are scheduled to be opened in May and construction is anticipated to be finished in the fall of 2015.
Terry Humbert, assistant engineer for the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 3, said that stretch of I-94 currently is kind of a bottleneck.
Humbert explained the improvement project during a town hall meeting Tuesday. The meeting was hosted by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer, R-Big Lake, and held at the Elk River Library.
“It’s a big deal and it does impact Elk River because transportation isn’t an isolated thing,” Kiffmeyer said of the I-94 project.
The project has several components.
On eastbound I-94, an auxiliary lane will be added. The auxiliary lane is an extra lane just between two interchanges, Humbert said. In this case, an auxiliary lane will be added on eastbound I-94 from the I-94 on-ramp at Highway 241 in St. Michael to the I-94 off-ramp Highway 101 in Rogers.
The auxiliary lane will be added to the outside of the existing eastbound lanes.
On westbound I-94, the exit ramp to north Highway 101 in Rogers will be lengthened and a third lane will be added on I-94 from Highway 101 in Rogers to Highway 241 in St. Michael. The new lane will be added to the outside of the existing lanes. That will make westbound I-94 three lanes from the Maple Grove area all the way to St. Michael, Humbert said.
Additionally, interstate pavement in the project area is 40 years old and will see some improvements. There will be a concrete overlay on top of the existing I-94 from Highway 101 to County Road 144. Pavement on I-94 from County Road 144 to Highway 241 will be reconstructed.
“When all is said and done, what you’ll see is a brand new concrete surface over this entire project area,” Humbert said.
Other project components include:
•I-94 bridges over the Crow River were built in 1973 and will be improved.
•A noise wall will be built on the north side of I-94, west of Highway 101, to protect a townhome development from noise. “It meets the federal and state requirements for noise protection,” Humbert said.
I-94 between Rogers and St. Michael is heavily used by commuters, commercial trucks and recreational traffic, he said.
The highway carries 7,500 commercial trucks a day. Overall, the average daily traffic is 75,000 vehicles.
An economic analysis has indicated the improvement project shows a high return on investment when it comes to reducing congestion.
During the construction project in the Rogers-St. Michael area, Humbert said the goal is to keep two lanes of I-94 open in each direction at all times.