MnDOT adjusts Hwy. 65 construction plan

After community input, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has made some changes to plans for construction on Highway 65.

The construction will start later than initially proposed, and small segments of the road will be reopened immediately after they are resurfaced.

Some staging will be done by MnDOT during the reconstruction of Highway 65 between Fridley and Spring Lake Park. File photo by Olivia Koester
Some staging will be done by MnDOT during the reconstruction of Highway 65 between Fridley and Spring Lake Park. File photo by Olivia Koester

MnDOT’s plan is to repave a 4-mile stretch of Highway 65, from 53rd Avenue in Fridley to County Highway 10 in Spring Lake Park. Construction is slated to occur from June to October and is estimated to cost $9.3 million.

Originally, MnDOT scheduled the construction’s start for June 2, but recently, the department pushed it back to June 11, holding off until school is out for summer.

Fridley and Spring Lake Park city staff and elected officials agree that the road needs work, but they worry that the plan outlined by MnDOT will cause great hardship for local businesses.

MnDOT has southbound traffic detoured to state roadways for the first phase of construction, then northbound traffic. No staging was included in initial proposals.

City staff urged MnDOT to consider a crossover option, rather than proposed detours. Crossovers would cut traffic down to one lane, but allow traffic to flow both north and south on one side of the median.

For financial, logistical and safety reasons, “our construction and traffic folks are opposed strongly to the crossover option,” said Wayne Norris, north area manager for MnDOT.

However, changes presented at a meeting for city, school district and business leaders March 10 incorporate staging.

After the first three weeks of construction, southbound Highway 65 will be open to 81st Avenue. After the first three weeks of northbound construction, traffic will be able to access Moore Lake Drive from 65.

Spring Lake Park City Administrator Dan Buchholtz is happy with the staging, which will help local businesses, he said. Crossovers are still preferable, but “we realized that was probably as far as we were going to be able to push [MnDOT],” he said.

Future meetings with MnDOT will focus on communication about the project, rather than the project itself, Buchholtz said.

MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce President Lori Higgins said the chamber will work with businesses to get through the summer and early fall. Even with the changes – a step in the right direction for Higgins – “without a doubt, this is going to be a huge project with some major implications for businesses who are up and down 65,” she said.

Though through-traffic detours are predetermined to include state roadways, local-traffic detours are still being nailed down. MnDOT intends to work with Anoka County, Fridley and Spring Lake Park to develop signage that suits local businesses’ needs, according to the department.

Construction bids go out in April for the project.

Open houses for business owners and the general public will occur in April or May, according to Denise Workcuff, MnDOT public affairs coordinator.

Olivia Koester is at [email protected]