Highway 169 Redefine Project Enhances Transportation Efficiency and Safety in Elk River

Highway 169 Redefine Project Enhances Transportation Efficiency and Safety in Elk River Main Photo

12 Jun 2023


Elk River is set to experience a significant transformation with the implementation of the Highway 169 Redefine project. Spearheaded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), and in collaboration with the City of Elk River and Sherburne County, this project aims to convert Highway 169 into a freeway by removing all five stoplights from Highway 10 north through Elk River. 

Project Overview

Highway 169 is a crucial north-south arterial route in central Minnesota, connecting the central lakes region and the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area with the growing trade centers of Elk River, Zimmerman, and Princeton. Commuters, recreational users, and businesses heavily rely on this highway. However, the signalized intersections along this stretch of Highway 169 have been leading to significant delays, safety concerns, and traffic congestion. The Highway 169 Redefine project was selected through the State of Minnesota's Corridors of Commerce grant program to address these issues.

Current Work Zone Details: As part of the ongoing construction, Highway 169 is temporarily reduced to one lane in each direction between Main Street and 197th Avenue. The southbound side has been dedicated to constructing the northbound road and bridges, and this arrangement will remain in place until mid-July. Additionally, the Jackson Avenue and 193rd Avenue intersections and the School Street and Elk Hills Drive intersections will continue to be closed until the bridges are complete this fall.

Local Access Changes: Various local access points have been established while the construction progresses to ensure motorists can still travel efficiently, and access local businesses. Access to Highway 169 remains open at Highway 10, Main Street, and the 197th Avenue interchanges. Temporary access points have been created along the corridor, including Holt Street, Freeport Street, Zane Avenue, Fifth Street, and Evans Street. A temporary signal has been installed at Main Street and Gates Avenue to facilitate side street traffic flow. Moreover, a compact roundabout has been implemented on Evans Street for business access.

Benefits of the Highway 169 Redefine project 

The project significantly improves overall traffic flow along the corridor by increasing capacity and eliminating bottlenecks. This enhancement is particularly valuable for freight movement, as it reduces barriers to local commerce and stimulates economic growth. Furthermore, the project prioritizes the safety and accessibility of motorists and pedestrians alike. Pedestrian crossings have been established at the signalized intersection at Main Street, the pedestrian bridge north of School Street/Elk Hills Drive, and the 197th Avenue bridge, ensuring safe passage for pedestrians.

Supporting local businesses during the project: Elk River Economic Development 

Elk River is into the second year of three for this project, and it has been challenging for local businesses, due to increased traffic congestion and reduced foot traffic. The staff at Elk River Economic Development has been working with the Together Elk River Committee and the Elk River Area Chamber of Commerce to support businesses during construction with positive marketing in the form of posters, social posts, street banners, hashtags, and billboards. The  emphasis has been on supporting them through “We’re Still Open” themes, and ensuring there is a general atmosphere of patience and positivity through elevated traffic.

The Highway 169 Redefine project is a testament to the collaborative efforts of all concerned authorities. By transforming Highway 169 into a freeway and removing stoplights, this initiative will revolutionize transportation efficiency, enhance safety, and foster economic prosperity. As the project progresses, it is crucial for motorists and pedestrians to remain aware of the current work zone details and local access changes. Get in touch with us here for more information on this project.