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Minnesota’s Highways Grow With the Times, Coon Rapids Earns Upgrade

Sat July 22, 2000 - Midwest Edition
Dorinda Anderson

Rapid growth in Coon Rapids, MN, a Minneapolis suburb, has prompted a $14.9-million road and bridge project. C.S. McCrossan of Maple Grove, MN, is heading this project on Highway 242 (Main Street) and Highway 10.

The 2.2-kilometer (1.5 mi.) portion of the east and west bound Highway 242 from Round Lake Boulevard to Coon Creek Boulevard is being widened from two lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction, making the total project about eight lanes wide. The bridge over Highway 10 is also being widened to three lanes in each direction with turn lanes, from its original two lanes in each direction. The project also includes 3-meter (10 ft.) shoulders and a 3-meter (10 ft.) trail and sidewalk.

Highway 242 starts in the community of Anoka, which is just west of Coon Rapids, and extends east to Lino Lakes, connecting the northern Minneapolis suburbs. With Highway 242 running through the heart of Coon Rapids where businesses abound, a bottleneck situation was occurring.

C.S. McCrossan began work in mid-March on both portions of the project – the road and the bridge – and currently one lane of traffic is open in each direction on Highway 242 west of Highway 10. The bridge and everything east of Highway 10, however, is closed to traffic.

The south side of Highway 242 has been temporarily widened so traffic can travel in both directions on that side while the north side is being worked on. The highways will be covered with bituminous overlay. Part of the roadway on the west side near Coon Creek Boulevard will also be replaced.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) anticipates having the bridge open by the first week of August, according to Mike Pretel, project director, Mn/DOT. But only one lane in each direction plus a turn lane will be open by then.

Currently, westbound on and off ramps on the bridge are closed while northbound Highway 10 is being rebuilt. The only ramp open is from Highway 242 to southbound Highway 10, said Pretel.

Work is in the first phase, which will continue until Aug. 1, and includes installing a new storm sewer on Highway 242 and relocating utilities. Intermittent closures will take place on Northdale Boulevard for the utility construction, but southbound Riverdale will remain open. Both boulevards intersect with Highway 242. Work on Northdale Boulevard totals about 600 meters (1,980 ft.).

Signal systems will be replaced; currently there are temporary signal systems running. Traffic signals will continue to operate at Riverdale and Northdale Boulevards and the west ramps at Highway 10. There will also be daily left lane closure on Highway 10 during the day to facilitate the bridge construction. Granular fill is being hauled to rebuild the approaches to the east side ramps.

“On the east side we are in the process of excavating muck because it is a creek area. So we have at least 20 to 30 feet of muck that is being replaced with granular fill, which will create a better drainage system,” Pretel said. “That is one of the most complex, time consuming aspects of the whole project.” Granular fill is being hauled to rebuild the approaches to the east side ramps.

Pretel explained that the existing road, Highway 242, had been built over a muck area that created a maintenance problem, which will be remedied with the completion of this project. “The problem had built up for many years, and the granular material is designed to drain well so the problem doesn’t reoccur. We are also upgrading the geometric design of the road and bringing it up to present highway standards,” he said.

Heavy traffic counts are restricting some portions of the construction process during the day, so certain portions of the project are being done at night. The overpass over Highway 10, for example, was removed in about three nights. “We had full closure alternating in either direction, east and west, and we diverted traffic up and down the ramps. We were able to remove it very quickly and it was a lot safer for travelers to use the ramps and keep away from the construction site while overhead work was taking place,” said Pretel. “It gave the contractor the opportunity to work quickly at night and he took full advantage of it. He did some day work on the abutments and the piers, where it didn’t impact the traffic.”

Night work will again occur when the girders are placed. Abutment work finished in May, and work on pier caps and the median will continue. “Once we get that done there is some work on the substructure before we place the girders. Then things could become tricky,” said Pretel.

“The way the contract is written there are special provisions for time and traffic so while overhead work is taking place, if traffic can’t be detoured the only other option is to stop traffic for 15 minutes at a time,” he continued. “But we don’t like to do that so we’re thinking of doing an in-place detour from Hanson Boulevard [which is on the eastern edge of the Highway 242 construction and connects to Highway 10 south of the bridge that is being replaced] to Bunker Lake Boulevard and back to Highway 10.” But that is a tentative plan, and has not yet been fully discussed.

Total completion of the road and bridge work portions of the project is set for November of this year but next spring landscaping will be completed.

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