New roadway project set to begin in a few months


The gray shaded area shows the realignment and work to be included with the project.

Winding path to final approvals for realigned Argenta Trail

Starting this April, a new, $8.5 million road construction project in Inver Grove Heights will begin. Work will focus on realigning Argenta Trail so that it connects to the future 72nd Street, which will be halfway between Highway 55 and 70th Street. The project is expected to be completed in 2017.

In 2010, Dakota County, in partnership with Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Mendota Heights and Sunfish Lake, completed a “Regional Roadway System Visioning Study.” 

“It helps the county and cities have a better idea of what to expect in the future and start planning through our capital improvement project process,” Jenna Fabish, project manager with Dakota County, said. 

In 2014, the county, Inver Grove Heights and Eagan completed an alignment study for Argenta Trail, which is also known as County State Aid Highway 28/63. The study was for Argenta Trail from south of Highway 55 to Interstate 494.

Fabish said the area was broken into two areas: south of Highway 55 to Amana Trail, and Amana Trail to just south of Interstate 494.

Open houses and neighborhood meetings were held to inform residents and receive their feedback.

“The south portion included the review of three different alignment options.  The north portion ultimately included a review of six alignment options,” Fabish said. 

 

What is realignment

Fabish said a realignment project takes the existing road and corrects any issues that are deemed substandard. The current Argenta Trail has problematic horizontal and vertical curves.

“If curves ... weren’t a problem on a project we would likely have done an expansion at its current location,” Fabish explained. 

The regional road study was needed because of the expected growth and development in the area. The study anticipated future capacity deficiencies in the regional transport system as traffic volumes increase.

“Without making improvement there would be a high risk of crashes as traffic volumes grow,” Fabish said. 

The study identified a proposed area for the new alignment. The completion of the study further defined where the alignment would be placed.

 

Moving a road

The realignment will be done from south of Highway 55 to north of Amana Trail as a four-lane divided street. Argenta Trail will be temporarily connected to the existing roadway at the location of the future 72nd Street, a new proposed roadway that would be roughly halfway between Amana Trail and 70th Street West. 

The intersection at Amana is a T-intersection, and it will eventually become a full intersection that allows for left turns, right turns and straight through.

Currently, westbound motorists on Amana Trail can only turn right and head north on Argenta. Drivers heading south on Argenta Trail can only go straight to the Highway 55 intersection and cannot take a left onto Amana.

There will also be a realignment of 77th Street to the intersection of Yankee Doodle Road and Argenta Trail.

Fabish said right now 77th Street comes out to existing Argenta Trail just south of Highway 55. The realignment will remove this access point and move it down to the intersection where Yankee Doodle Road and Argenta Trail come together.

Because this is a county and city project, Fabish said the city entered into a joint powers agreement with the county for both the preliminary and final design for the project. There was also a joint powers agreement for the analysis of alignment options for the “continuation of future Argenta Trail north of the project.” These agreements were made in 2014.

The Inver Grove Heights City Council received preliminary designs in early 2015. The planning commission held a public hearing to consider a comprehensive plan amendment for the new alignment. The council adopted the new alignment and the comprehensive plan in April 2015. 

Fabish said it was in 2016 that the city entered into a joint powers agreement with the county for jurisdictional transfer of Amana Trail from the city to the county.

Construction cost for the project is $8.5 million, and there is federal funding for roughly $5.6 million. Fabish said the state is paying for the upgrade of the traffic light, which is $425,000. The remaining balance is split 55 percent county and 45 percent city.

There are three phases of the project. The first is the realignment of Argenta Trail, 77th Street, Highway 55 and Amana Trail. 

The second phase involves the south side of Highway 55 and tearing out the existing Argenta road and tying it in to the new road where Yankee Doodle Road comes in. The third phase involves the north side and removes the existing road and connects it to 72nd street.

 

Complications along the way

During meetings and open houses in 2015, several Inver Grove Heights homeowners spoke out against some of the proposed plans because they worried their homes would be causalities. According to a previous South-West Review article, the Dakota County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a northern realignment and expansion plan in April 2015 that would spare at least 10 homes. 

It was in February of that same year that homeowners protested all five realignment options that had been proposed by county and city staff. One homeowner was credited for submitting an alternative route that brought everyone back to the table. 

Utility relocation is going on now, and construction is anticipated to start in April. 

 

Hannah Burlingame can be reached at 651-748-7824 or hburlingame@lillienews.com.

 

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