New interchange planned at Hadley Avenue and Highway 36

Redesign should eliminate rush-hour headaches

Washington County is taking the lead role in a road project that involves removing the traffic signals at the intersection of Highway 36 and Hadley Avenue in Oakdale and replacing the signals with an overpass bridge and interchange ramps. 

The new interchange is expected to improve safety and eliminate the long backups that develop at the stoplights during rush hour. The design work will be completed by 2018 and construction is expected to begin in 2019.

A public open house to learn about the project and provide input will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. There will be no formal presentation, but area residents, commuters and business owners can visit the Oakdale Discovery Center, 4444 Hadley Ave. N., Oakdale, during the open house to meet staff from Oakdale, Washington County, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the consultant design team.

According to Washington County’s project webpage, this project arose from a Highway 36 Corridor Study that the MnDOT completed in 2014, which identified a long-term vision for the highway as an “access controlled expressway with grade separated intersections.”

Project engineer Frank Ticknor said, “Now Washington County is taking the project on from here and delivering it through construction, and our first step is to take the interchange that has been approved through MnDOT and complete the preliminary design of that.” 

He added that the environmental documentation would be one of the first steps.

 

If you go...

What: Highway 36/Hadley Avenue interchange project open house

When: Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 4 to 6 p.m.

Where: Oakdale Discovery Center, 4444 Hadley Ave. N., Oakdale

Ticknor explained that engineers are planning to have Hadley Avenue go over Highway 36 via a bridge, and the bridge would have ramps looping on the west side of Hadley; the ramp style is called a folded diamond.

“We can’t put anything on east side [of Hadley] because there is a [Mills Fleet Farm] gas station there, and we have too close of proximity to the ramps to Interstate 694, and there’s wetlands and all kinds of challenges on the east side,” Ticknor explained.

Oakdale city administrator Bart Fischer noted that currently “traffic can stack up” in the area of Hadley and Highway 36 because of the stoplights.

“We actually do think the project would ultimately be beneficial to Oakdale,” Fischer said. “The ‘do nothing’ option will result in increasing delays and accidents. This project will preserve our mobility and access to the regional transportation system, for our residents, business owners and public safety providers.”

The Department of Natural Resources’ Gateway Trail will be impacted by the interchange project, but Fischer explained that the way the recreational trail currently crosses Hadley Avenue is a safety concern to city staff and trail users, and this project provides the opportunity to make a safer crossing.

Ticknor explained that the interchange project will probably move the Gateway Trail crossing further south on Hadley Avenue, and there is the possibility of having the trail pass through a tunnel underneath Hadley Avenue

Ticknor said that the total project is expected to cost about $20 million, and that amount includes the cost of the Gateway Trail improvements. 

The county webpage states that $7 million will come from federal funding via the Surface Transportation Program, $5 million from MnDOT via the Transportation Economic Development grant program, and $1 million from a DNR grant for the Gateway Trail crossing. A commercial right-of-way donation as well as county and city state-aid road funds will also be used.

 

Highway 120 intersection on hold

The same MnDOT study that led to the Highway 36/Hadley Avenue project also looked at building a freeway-style interchange at Highway 36 and Highway 120, locally known as Century or Geneva Avenue or Division Street. 

The Washington County website states that there is currently no funding for the estimated $30 million for this project, but “building the Hadley Avenue interchange first will benefit drivers in the future when the Century Avenue interchange is built.”

Ticknor explained that because Highway 120 is a border road for Washington and Ramsey counties as well as Oakdale and North St. Paul, there are many groups involved with the redesign project. There are also many businesses located at the busy intersection. 

So it is difficult to predict when or how the Highway 120 interchange will be built. But Ticknor said the intention is to construct an interchange there as a project separate from the Hadley Avenue interchange project.

 

Aundrea Kinney can be reached at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.

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