Redefining the Rumors


Last Updated: August 25, 2020

169 Redefine Word on the Street Graphic Logo Opens in new windowDo you have a question or have you heard rumors about the project that you'd like to verify? Click the image to the right and submit a rumor or a question!

A project team member will answer your question or address the rumor and we'll post both the rumor and response below.

Q: How will the project impact the plan to revitalize Main Street between 10/169? Will Main/Gates remain a four way stop?

While the 169 Redefine project limits will not extend that far west, we will be watching how this corridor functions from a traffic perspective as a result of the improvements to the east. At the present time, it is expected the intersection will remain 4-way stop controlled.

Q: Will the Pine View apartments across from the Circle K gas station be affected during the construction on 169?

‘Affected’ has a wide range of meaning as it is used surrounding this project. It is not anticipated that the Pine View Apartments will be ‘affected’ from a standpoint of acquisition or modification to the buildings or parking areas within said property. The residents of the apartment can expect to be ‘affected’ during construction as access across Highway 169 and Main Street will be limited while the work is being done.

Q: If the Salvation Army and KFC are being taken out due to the 169 Redefine project, what does that mean for the apartment buildings and single family homes located on Baldwin Avenue?

The proposed acquisitions by MnDOT of the Salvation Army and KFC are to provide for stormwater treatment in those locations. The apartments and homes along Baldwin will not be impacted by the project.

Q: Is the belief that many people will use Twin Lakes Road as a way to get around the construction? If so, are there plans to change anything at the intersection of Twin Lakes Road/Twin Lakes Parkway?

Maintenance and control of traffic during construction will be further evaluated and addressed in the final design period where we develop more clarity around staging and anticipated off-highway impacts/needs. The functionality of the entire Twin Lakes Road corridor during construction will certainly be part of those considerations. At our current stage, it is difficult to accurately predict any specific ‘off project’ required improvements.

Q: How is this forecasted to impact home values in affected areas? Short term, during construction, long-term and after completion?  Noise pollution is a concern. Has there been a study to predict property values and this highway expansion?

MnDOT is currently updating the noise analysis for the project. The results of this work will help determine if/where noise mitigation treatments are necessary. There are no accurate means to predict valuation changes. The City of Elk River is encouraged that the safety, improved mobility, and ultimate quality of life benefits delivered by the completed project will result in the prosperity of our entire community.

Q: Hwy 169 design from MnDOT should be in its final stages. What is the status of the 5th Street changes on the east side of town? Is it still on the books or has it been erased?

At this time, it is still open for consideration until further details are understood regarding how the project would tie in and when/if it should be considered from a traffic management and staging prospective. When those details are known, the City Council would consider whether or not to re-engage work on this project.

Q: I heard that the strip mall where Chipotle and Jimmy Johns is will be torn down. Is that true?


Q: When will any city (Elk River, not MN) acquisitions be made/announced?

The City of Elk River does not anticipate many, if any, city-initiated acquisitions as part of our participation in the project. As the 169 Redefine project moves into final design, we are working closely with the designers and construction managers to develop a local traffic management plan to accommodate side street traffic. At this time we are unsure what/when these local system modifications will need to be.The most likely city-led acquisition may be the previous plan to cul-de-sac Line Avenue south of 5th Street. These conversations will continue into and through the final design process over the coming year.

Q: Are any local businesses going to be affected (i.e.) closed permanently due to this project?

Yes, at this time two commercial properties have been identified for full acquisition; the Salvation Army Store and Kentucky Fried Chicken. MnDOT right-of-way agents will work directly with affected owners and businesses in accordance with state law relating to property acquisition and relocation.

Q: Is there a plan for traffic impacts on side streets? For example, 181st Ave NW already sees significant backups of eastbound traffic at the Baugh Street intersection during the evening rush. What efforts are underway to mitigate side street traffic increases?

As the project moves into final design we will be working closely with the project construction manager to develop a traffic management plan that will accommodate the current and anticipated bypass/detour traffic on the local system. At this time we are unsure what these local system modifications will need to be and when it is most appropriate to make them.

Q: What is the extent of right of way acquisition that needs to take place in both dollars and impacts to local businesses? Is it known which intersections will require relocation of businesses along the highway?

At this time two commercial properties have been identified for full acquisition; the Salvation Army Store and Kentucky Fried Chicken. MnDOT right-of-way agents will work directly with affected owners and businesses in accordance with state law relating to property acquisition and relocation. The terms/costs of those acquisitions will be between the property owners and MnDOT.

Q: This is going to bottleneck 169 for years, won’t it?

The construction will result in temporary traffic congestion impacts throughout the city and the region. The completed project is designed to improve overall highway efficiency, safety, and local connectivity.

Q: I heard they are going to take Salvation Army. Is that true? I hope not. Salvation Army does so much good and 90% of their money goes into supporting their goals and programs. If so will they have help relocating in the Elk River community?

Project limits identify the need for full acquisition of this property. Relocation services and costs are part of the MnDOT property acquisition process that will be completed with that owner.

Q: I wanted to see if the 2 corner lots (shared driveway) on 197th right at  Highway 169 are due for demo (across from BP gas station)?

The homes in the NE corner of Highway 169 and 197th are not expected to be acquired or demolished. 

Q: Are there any plans to lengthen the distance available to merge from 10 west to 169 north? The ramp is long, but the actual distance for merging is extremely short. I feel that this will become a bigger issue when the lights on 169 at 10 are eliminated.

Yes. The improvements include adding an auxiliary lane (essentially a third lane for 169 northbound) from this ramp to the next off ramp for Main Street. This will give substantially more merging distance.

Q: Will traffic on Highway 10 heading westbound back up at the proposed left turn lane at southbound Highway 101?

The project team has evaluated traffic operations and the maximum back-up is estimated to fit within the current design’s westbound left turn lane length.

Q: Is the left turn lane for westbound Highway 10 to southbound Highway 101 able to accommodate extra-long truck traffic?

Yes, the left turn lane and associated ramp are designed to accommodate over-sized loads.

Q: When will construction begin and how long will it take?

Construction is planned to start in the fall of 2022, but the majority of construction will take place in 2023 and 2024. The project is planned to be completed at the end of 2024.

Q: Will the Line Avenue access to Main Street be closed?

MnDOT and the city are considering revisions to the layout shown in October of 2019 that planned a Line Avenue cul-de-sac just south of 5th Street rather than severing at Main Street. This would allow the area immediately east of Highway 169 and north of Main Street to have access to Main Street.

Q: Will the existing pedestrian bridge north of School Street remain after the project is completed? 

The current proposal is to lower Highway 169 below School Street which would place Highway 169 lower than the existing roadway near the pedestrian bridge. This would require the removal or re-construction of the pedestrian bridge. However, the project team is evaluating alternatives to allow Highway 169 to be closer to the existing elevation near the bridge, thus maintaining the pedestrian bridge as is.

Q: Will Highway 169 be closed during construction?

No, MnDOT plans to keep at least one lane in each direction open for the entirely of the project.

Q: Will sound walls be constructed along the corridor? 

MnDOT is performing a traffic noise analysis to determine if the proposed construction will warrant noise/sound walls. The determination will be made in early spring of 2020.

Q: How will local street intersections, adjacent to the interchanges, be controlled?

Current design concepts are as follows:

  • Main/Carson side street stop signs will remain, but a future traffic signal may be warranted.
  • Main/Line/Zane will remain signalized.
  • School/Freeport will remain signalized.
  • School/Dodge side street stop signs will remain.
  • 193rd/Holt side street stop signs will remain.
  • 193rd/Evans side street stop signs will remain, however MnDOT is evaluating a roundabout.
  • 197th/Holt will remain as a four-way stop intersection, however MnDOT is evaluating a roundabout at this location.
  • 197th/Evans side street stop signs will remain.

Q: Now the traffic problem will just move north to Zimmerman, what is being done to counter that issue?

Sherburne County has modeled the traffic condition in Zimmerman following the removal of the Elk River signals. While Highway 169 will function adequately on opening day in Zimmerman, Sherburne County will continue to pursue future solutions for the signal on Highway 169 in Zimmerman.

Q: Plans currently call for no ramps on the south side of 197th Avenue - can these be added in the future?

Yes, south ramps can be added in the future but they are not included as part of this project because traffic models show little demand for them to be considered at this time.

Q: The entire project seems like a waste. Why not just re-time the existing signals along Highway 169?

The existing traffic signals have reached their operational limitations with respect to cycle lengths and there are pedestrian safety concerns crossing a high speed roadway at grade. This project was the highest scoring Corridors of Commerce project for Greater Minnesota based on the following criteria:

  • Return on investment
  • Economic impact
  • Freight efficiency
  • Safety improvements
  • Regional connections
  • Policy objectives
  • Community consensus 

Q: Can bike lanes be incorporated on the local roadways?

At all four major intersections, the current design connects city sidewalks and trails on both sides of Highway 169. On-street bike lanes are not currently planned for the area.

Q: Can a signal be added to the intersection of Main Street and Twin Lakes Road?

Sherburne County is developing a project to install turn lanes and a traffic signal at the intersection of Twin Lakes Road and Main Street which will be constructed in 2020.

While the 169 Redefines project limits will not extend that far west, we will be watching how this corridor functions from a traffic perspective as a result of the improvements to the east.  At the present time it is expected the intersection will remain 4-way stop controlled.