Highway 36 construction at Hilton Trail to affect Lake Elmo this summer

MnDOT says freeway will remain open during roadwork

As a part of a series of construction projects aimed at improving traffic flow and safety on state Highway 36, the traffic lights at Hilton Trail in Pine Springs will be removed and a new diamond interchange will be built this summer.

Additionally, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be putting in a “reduced conflict” intersection at Demontreville Trail, just east of the Hilton Trail/Highway 36 intersection. This type of intersection creates a designated left-turn lane in each direction on Highway 36.

The intersection at Demontreville Trail will be converted into a “three-fourths” intersection. East and westbound travelers on Highway 36 will be able to turn south onto Demontreville Trail, but those headed north on Demontreville will not be able to make a left turn onto westbound Highway 36.

The goal of Demontreville Trail project is to reduce the number of  crashes, project manager Curt Fakler explained.

“Some of the biggest conflicts on Highway 36 are right-angle accidents,” Fakler said. “You don’t want to get T-boned at high speeds.”

The project will also connect the north side frontage road over the DNR’s recreational Gateway Trail. The Gateway Trail will be maintained, but might have some short-term closures.

The city street Highlands Trail North in Lake Elmo also will be closed briefly as the project progresses.

Two lanes of traffic will be maintained in both directions on Highway 36 throughout construction. But the exit ramp from northbound Interstate 694 to eastbound Highway 36 will be closed for three to four weeks as the project progresses.

Long Lake in Pine Spring abuts Highway 36, and MnDOT engineers report that years of car traffic have damaged the shoreline. “We’re putting rocks down to stop erosion,” Fakler added.

The $13.8 million project at Hilton and Demontreville trails will begin construction this week if weather allows, and should be completed this fall with landscaping work continuing into spring 2014.

Streamlining freeway

The project is part of a long-term plan to convert Highway 36 into a limited-access freeway.

MnDOT East Area Manager Adam Josephson explained in a previous interview that removing the series of traffic signals on Highway 36 in Washington County is something residents want.

“We’re looking to get a study underway to see what it would take to remove the signals on 36,” Josephson said. “On the expressway outside (the I-694 beltway), our main focus is moving traffic.”

MnDOT has already begun another large, $17.3 million improvement project on Highway 36, this one at English Street in Maplewood. A diamond interchange will be constructed, and side streets will no longer have at-grade access to the freeway.

To speed up the project’s timeframe, Highway 36 between White Bear Avenue and U.S. Highway 61 will be closed to vehicle traffic from mid-June to late August.

For more information on the project, visit http://www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy36pinesprings/index.html.

Johanna Holub can be reached at jholub@lillienews.com or 651-748-7814.

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