The cities of St. Michael and Albertville approved final layout designs for the upcoming Interstate 94 expansion project at their most recent council meetings, which will include bridge replacements and traffic flow enhancements at Township Highway 241 in St. Michael and County State Aid Highways 37 and 19 in Albertville.
Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MN DoT) project manager for the St. Michael to Albertville project, Claudia Dumont, attended the council meetings to explain how the project will impact St. Michael and Albertville residents. Here’s the breakdown of what to expect:
The largest impact St. Michael residents will see is a completely re-built bridge running over Interstate 94, with enough space for an expanded interstate to run underneath.
Local motorists will notice a few main changes with the new bridge’s functionality. One is that the stoplight currently on the north side of the bridge will no longer be necessary with the new bridge design. Motorists exiting I-94 onto Highway 241 will take one exit to head north, towards the Tributary Crossings development, and different one to head south toward downtown St. Michael. Those intending to travel south will take a new clover leaf exit, which will loop exiting vehicles around and send them southbound without needing to make a turn. Dumont said the loop will serve to keep exiting traffic from backing up onto I-94. This loop will require the current westbound entrance ramp to move slightly to the north, and crews will add an auxiliary lane under the bridge to give motorists a chance to slow down before entering the loop.
“We did quite a bit of analysis and found [this loop] would be a good long-term solution for St. Michael,” Dumont said.
One other change the new bridge will bring is a reconfiguration and improvement to the southern section for motorists to make a smoother entrance onto eastbound I-94.
Councilmember Joe Hagerty suggested that they’d like to move that stoplight down to O’Day Ave. by St. Michael Cinema if it will no longer be necessary on the bridge, and Dumont said she was aware of the desire for a stoplight at that intersection. She said the contracting teams working on this project are encouraged to “bring innovation,” and she said they’ve been kicking around some ideas but do not yet have any concept drawings. Bot said the city hopes they can incorporate improvements to TH 241 intersections at both O’Day Ave. and Oakwood Drive, and he said the city would pay half the cost for any improvements to those intersections. The city’s current costs for the project totals about $60,000, which pays for the local share of the trail improvements being installed along with the new interchange.
The project will bring a long-anticipated third lane in either direction running to Albertville, with an additional eastbound lane running from west of CSAH 19 to TH 241, and the additional westbound lane from TH 241 to CSAH 37.
Additionally, the project will add access to eastbound I-94 via CSAH 19, a project city administrator Adam Nafstad called “long overdue.” It will also change the eastbound exit onto CSAH 37 into a collector-distributor road. Nafstad explained that eastbound I-94 travelers exiting in Albertville will get off the highway at a common exit near CSAH 19. Those wishing to get off near CSAH 37 will stay on the collector-distributor road, which will go over CSAH 19. Vehicles intending to enter eastbound I-94 from CSAH 19 will also use the collector-distributor road, which will bring them under the CSAH 37 bridge and onto I-94 E.
A new signal will be added on CSAH 19 for motorists exiting eastbound I-94, and Nafstad said they will make lighting and sight improvements at that intersection.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MN DoT) purchased a parcel of land just east of Don’s Auto, off CSAH 37 in Albertville, which is currently home to an antique mall. That will become the site of a drainage pond, though Nafstad said the city would like maintain a space for a developable lot.
Like in St. Michael, the I-94 bridges over CSAH 19 in Albertville will be completely replaced. The city of Albertville’s cost to complete this project will be just over $85,000.
Nafstad noted that the freeway expansion project will not delay Albertville’s planned CSAH 19 expansion to four lanes from Albertville Premium Outlets to 70th Street. He said that project will begin this spring and be substantially complete this fall.
Construction on the St. Michael to Albertville expansion project begins in fall 2019 and will finish in the fall of 2021. Nafstad said most of the fall 2019 work will be off-road, such as prepping for a bridge or soil correction. The city administrators said MN DoT will maintain four open lanes of I-94 at all times besides some overnight closures, which will bring traffic down to one lane in either direction.