Highway 96 bridge replacement draws nearer

Come the end of the year, the new Highway 96 bridge over Interstate 35W will be wider than before, more pedestrian friendly and have links to trails. Stop lights will replace stop signs and the interchange will become a diverging diamond interchange, which MnDOT says shifts traffic to cut down on potential accident points. (submitted graphic)
Come the end of the year, the new Highway 96 bridge over Interstate 35W will be wider than before, more pedestrian friendly and have links to trails. Stop lights will replace stop signs and the interchange will become a diverging diamond interchange, which MnDOT says shifts traffic to cut down on potential accident points. (submitted graphic)

Another large bridge project in the Interstate 35W corridor cutting through New Brighton and Arden Hills is set to kick off this week, this time at the I-35W and Highway 96 interchange.

The Ramsey County-led bridge replacement will replace the current three-lane span with a wider diverging diamond interchange design, along with better accommodations for pedestrians and regional trail connections.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation touts the project goals as increasing the bridge's safety, making it a smoother driving surface and extending the life of the bridge.

Beth Engum, a project manager at Ramsey County Public Works, said the project's contractor will start work on the estimated $12.5 million project the week of May 25, beginning with work on the northern side of the bridge.

That initial work, which is yet without a hard starting date, could narrow traffic down to two lanes on the bridge, depending on contractor plans, Engum said, and would close the two highway ramps along the north side of the bridge.

While early plans for the project included only weekend closures of the bridge, Engum said the bridge will be closed for three weeks during excavation work to make way for new roadway.

Engum said the project is slated to be complete in November.

The diverging diamond interchange design is said to be safer than traditional interchanges, presenting fewer potential accident points.

Other area bridges

A month after the demolition of County Road E over Snelling Avenue in Arden Hills, work crews set beams for the new bridge overnight on May 18 and 19, according to an Arden Hills news release.

The release said "work is progressing well overall" and said work will shift to focusing on the ramps on the western side of Snelling.

The $2.7 million dollar project is still slated to be complete in August.

Bidding on work to replace the County Road F/Lake Valentine Road bridge over I-35W in Arden Hills will open June 5. That project was slated to begin in May; it should be underway in July.

— Mike Munzenrider

 

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