Motorist Mike Mensing lives and works near Highway 65. He says the highway often resembles a parking lot during rush hour.
“My commute home is 15 minutes straight north on Highway 65. If I work until 4:30, it becomes a 25 to 30 minute drive home.”
MnDOT Transportation Planner Jennifer Wiltgen says it took some outside-the-box thinking.
“We really leaned on best practices and some of those innovate solutions that have worked in other areas of the country and look at them in context of what are we seeing on Highway 65 today, how can we address that.”
On the south end, the County Road 10 cloverleaf might be replaced with stop lights since MnDOT says they take a lot of space and don’t move a lot of traffic.
The intersection at US Highway 10 may also look a lot different. One plan for getting from northbound Highway 65 to westbound 10 would require drivers to go past 10, make a U-turn under Highway 65 and go back to a ramp leading to 10.
The traffic lights at 109th Avenue would be replaced with a new interchange. Under one proposal, making a left turn onto 109th from southbound Highway 65 would require going past 109th and making a U-turn under 65.
These are just two design ideas presented at a recent virtual open house.
“They may look a little different but overall the movement of traffic is going to flow a lot better with a lot of these solutions,” says Wiltgen.
Wiltgen says MnDOT will work to help the public learn how to navigate the new designs, including expanded signage, if they are built. There will be more opportunity for public input as MnDOT narrows down the options.
“As projects begin to move forward and move through the process, the public can expect to be reached out to again through the environmental process,” she says.
Blaine Public Works Director Jon Haukaas says the city is focused on improvements to Highway 65 at 99th Avenue. “We see that as the intersection of a street under City control that we can see the most immediate improvements to safety and congestion relief,” Haukaas wrote in an e-mail. He says Blaine has applied for funding assistance under a number of programs. He adds construction on frontage roads could begin in 2022, and construction on Highway 65 itself is likely to be in 2024 at the earliest.