Hennepin County Bulks Up Hwy. 12

Wed October 13, 2004 - Midwest Edition
Brenda Ruggiero

A two-phase reconstruction project is well underway in Hennepin County, MN, with the final goal being to direct through-traffic in Long Lake to a new bypass.

The project will realign Highway 12 from Wayzata Blvd. to County Road 6. Highway 12 will become an access-controlled highway, resulting in added capacity, smoother travel and increased safety. After the bypass is complete, the existing Highway 12 will become a Hennepin County roadway.

The $39 million contract calls for the reconstruction of a limited access Highway 12 (Long Lake Bypass) in a new alignment south of existing Highway 12.

In addition, two interchanges will be constructed, one at Wayzata Blvd. and one at County Road 6. The project involves grading, concrete and bituminous surfacing, noise and retaining walls, traffic signal, lighting and signing, one temporary bridge and five permanent bridges. Funding is 80 percent federal and 20 percent state.

Phase 1, which is currently on schedule, involves the construction of the bypass, construction of bridges at Old Crystal Bay Road, Willow Drive, Brown Road, Luce Line Trail, and Pedestrian Trail Bridge, and the relocation of 4 miles of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. This phase began on August 14, 2003, and is expected to be complete by the fall of 2006.

Currently, the Highway 12 corridor in Wayzata, Long Lake and Orono is a standard two-lane highway that handles approximately 25,000 vehicles per day.

However, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) determined that it does not perform well as a main street or regional corridor. The preferred alternative was an improved two-lane highway, or “Super-Two.”

According to Mn/DOT, this type of highway provides unimpeded traffic flow and improves safety by keeping traffic flowing as smoothly and safely as possible. This is accomplished by providing better geometrics (sight lines), wider driving lanes and shoulders, reduced access points and providing safer passing opportunities.

On the schedule for 2004 are the construction of New Park Avenue and Lakeview Avenue to Orono Orchard Road, the construction of a temporary connection at Watertown Road (Bollum Bypass), the complete excavation for relocation of the railroad tracks, the removing of history 1885 Luce Line Truss Bridge (with reinstallation scheduled for 2006), the construction of the new Luce Line Trail Bridge, the construction of water retention ponds and wetland mitigation sites, the continued construction of retaining walls and the noise walls on the south side of the railroad tracks, and the complete construction of Brown Road north of existing Highway 12.

The prime contractor is Ames Construction Inc., with Todd Planting serving as project manager.

During the construction process, a separate planning and landscaping project is planned to beautify the entire corridor. In addition, the Long Lake City Hall, Fire Station and Public Works facility have been relocated, and a new city hall was built on Virginia Avenue.

A new Long Lake Volunteer Fire Station was also constructed. Mn/DOT provided funding for the new facilities, modeling and relocations.

According to Kent Barnard of Mn/DOT public affairs, “This project’s challenges stem from its unique design. The new highway is much lower than adjacent areas. Consequently, there’s a lot of dirt to move off-site.

“As excavation progresses, storm water must run through longer ditches and is more difficult to manage. In-place soils are primarily clay and much, which restricts infiltration,” added Barnard. “The need for thousands of feet of retaining wall is an additional result of the relationship of the roadway to adjacent areas. Sand is necessary for fill behind walls, which makes the coordination of fill and excavation critical to a successful earthwork operation.”

The train track portion of the contract presents an added challenge. “Currently, the most major element of this project is the construction of new railroad embankment in preparation for the relocation of four miles of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad track scheduled for between May and July of 2005,” Barnard explained.

“The new highway alignment is located where in-place railroad tracks are currently in service. Since the in-place tracks must remain in service during the project, construction of the new permanent bridges must be staged such that abutments and piers must be built in 2004. Deck construction must wait until 2005,” Barnard added.

For Mn/DOT, Lucas Smith serves as the project engineer, while Dan Penn is the resident engineer. There also are seven state field inspectors assigned to the job, including three for structural work and four for grading work. The contractor’s employee numbers change based on the work being done.

Barnard reported that the project includes 1,491,180 cu. yds. of common excavation; 214,228 cu. yds. of topsoil excavation; 157,495 cu. yds. of subgrade excavation, 163,929 cu. yds. of much excavation; and 90,266 cu. yds. of structure excavation. The estimated granular borrow requirements total 667,525 cu. yds. and the structural concrete for retaining walls involves 22,051 cu. yds.

Major subcontractors for this phase include Nordic Contracting, Clear Lake, MN, C & G and sidewalk; Neaton Brothers Erosion, Watertown, MN, turf establishment and erosion control; Progressive Contractors Incorporated, St. Michael, MN, mainline concrete pavement; Midwest Asphalt Corporation, Hopkins, MN, bituminous surfacing; MBE Inc., Delano, MN, trucking; County Concrete Materials Corp, Roberts, WI, prestressed concrete beams; Best Steel Erectors, Blaine, MN, steel reinforcement bars; and High Five Erectors, Shakopee, MN, steel fabrication and beam erection.

The letting date for Phase 2 is scheduled for February 2005. This portion of the contract involves construction of interchanges at County Road 6 and in place Highway 12 at Wayzata. Construction is expected to begin in May 2005, with completion expected by October 2006.