January 17, 2019 10:25 PM
A problem area for many drivers in the west Metro is getting a major upgrade, and it's coming sooner than many expected.
The Rockford Road Bridge (CR 9) over Interstate 494 in Plymouth will be replaced this summer. The upgrade comes after city leaders say the interchange has been plagued with crashes and congestion.
Now, thanks to recent funding from a state bonding bill, construction is expected to start in May.
"This has been a long-awaited project," said Mike Payne, Plymouth's interim city engineer.
Patrick Chapman, the manager at Haskell's Wine and Spirits near that interchange, said he doesn't have many choices when it comes to driving home from work, meaning he is forced to use the interchange.
"I've witnessed plenty of accidents there," he said.
The lack of turn lanes to get on 494 is cited as one of its biggest problems.
"Without a dedicated turn lane, and a turn light to operate that, people are rolling the dice," Chapman said.
Payne said the interchange sees an average of 33 crashes a year, and is used by 40,000 vehicles a day.
That's more than 25 times the traffic it saw when it was built in the 1960s.
"Both the city and Hennepin County expressed concerns that the bridge that exists today cannot handle the existing traffic," Payne said.
But thanks to state, county and city funding, a new and wider $14 million bridge will replace it this year. It will come with a similar diamond interchange design, dedicated turn lanes and a pedestrian trail.
"We're really looking forward to it, and it will offer a lot of safety improvements and reduced delays at this congested intersection," Payne said.
Chapman said the money spent will be worth it.
"Everybody is excited to see it done, (it's) not going to be that happy dealing with it, but it's going to benefit the whole area, so that's a good thing," Chapman said.
The work will be completed in three different phases starting in May. The project is expected to wrap up in November.
That also means drivers will have to plan for detours.
Updated: January 17, 2019 10:25 PM
Created: January 17, 2019 07:21 PM
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