September 19, 2018 06:31 PM
Drivers in the northwest metro are celebrating the completion of a major construction project on Highway 169.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is finishing up two projects along that stretch of the highway, and officials said parts of the projects are ahead of schedule.
For some who live and work in the area, though, it's made for a challenging year.
Caitlyn Ortega of Ladybug Pottery said customers have been forced to be creative when trying to navigate their way to the business.
"Even like coming in or on the phone, they were like how's the traffic, and I'm like it's still bad," she said.
For months, traffic along Highway 169 in the area was down to one lane in each direction.
"Getting around was the chief challenge around here," MnDOT spokesperson Kent Barnard said.
But Barnard said the payoff is worth it. Drivers will notice two new Elm Creek bridges, a pedestrian underpass beneath Highway 169 and softer curves near the Mississippi River. It's all aimed at easing traffic.
Plus, he said crews were able to do pavement repairs just south of the area toward Highway 610 - a project that wasn't supposed to start for a few more years.
"We went and got the money and we advanced the project so we had all the work done in the same time frame," Barnard said.
But the year of disruption had some businesses feeling left out. Though MnDOT stressed they went above and beyond to communicate with everyone.
"We over-communicated out here," Barnard said. "I don't know what more we could have done to help the businesses out here."
Ortega applauds that effort.
"We got told multiple times," Ortega said.
And now as crews put the finishing touches on the project, customers at Ladybug Pottery can start spending less time on the road and more time on their works of art.
"Better business for us getting more people in here," Ortega said.
Crews are still working on rumble strips along the southbound lanes, but say that should all be completed over the next week.
Updated: September 19, 2018 06:31 PM
Created: September 19, 2018 04:22 PM
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