State, local leaders celebrate kickoff of Highway 65 project in Blaine

State, local leaders celebrate kickoff of Highway 65 project in Blaine

State, local leaders celebrate kickoff of Highway 65 project in Blaine

After more than two decades of discussion, state and local leaders gathered Thursday afternoon to celebrate the official kickoff of a project to improve safety on a major highway in the north metro.

Between state and federal funding, nearly $200 million is earmarked for Highway 65 in Blaine, which has been considered one of the most dangerous roads in Minnesota for some time.

RELATED: State funding moves Highway 65 safety upgrades closer to reality

With funding now secured, a group including Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) Commissioner Nancy Daubenberger, U.S. Sens. from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Blaine Mayor Tim Sanders and several state lawmakers came together to mark the start of the construction project.

It comes as MnDOT’s second closure of part of the highway is scheduled for this weekend. During that closure, which will impact southbound Highway 65 from Anoka County Road 14/Main Street to Highway 10 in Blaine, crews are getting preliminary work done to prepare for the larger project next year. Then, starting in the spring, crews will resurface 14½ miles of the highway, reconstruct areas, install a cable median guardrail and add curb ramps and improved sidewalks to several intersections. However, that’s just the start.

The plan is to put in four overpasses on Highway 65 from 97th Avenue to 119th Avenue. The goal is to start that in 2025.

“To have this realization that this road will get the safety upgrades that it so needs, that it so deserves. For us to be able to really serve the north metro to be the gateway of the north which we believe that Blaine is, we’re super grateful,” said Tim Sanders, Blaine Mayor.

Sanders says the stretch of the highway sees 60,000 drivers a day, and the project will not only improve safety but also reduce congestion.

“As a Blaine resident of 28 years, you’ve got to understand the frustrations that we all felt dealing with this complete and total nightmare,” said Rep. Nolan West (R-Blaine).

While the finished product is still years away, Thursday’s gathering marked a significant step and recognized everything that has been done to even get to this point.

“There is that time with a lot of orange cones, and a lot of folks on the street that people gripe about, that day will come but it’s the other side of that day where we’re all looking forward to,” said Governor Tim Walz.