Rogers touts new design for 101/144 interchange project

The $22 million Hwy. 101/County Rd. 144 interchange project will elevate Hwy. 101 above the intersection so north and southbound traffic can avoid it altogether if they don’t need to turn. Below the flyover, County Rd. 144 will be remade into a Diverging Diamond Interchange, or DDI, a relatively new type of intersection that is said to be less expensive to construct and safer to drive on.

The $22 million Hwy. 101/County Rd. 144 interchange project will elevate Hwy. 101 above the intersection so north and southbound traffic can avoid it altogether if they don’t need to turn. Below the flyover, County Rd. 144 will be remade into a Diverging Diamond Interchange, or DDI, a relatively new type of intersection that is said to be less expensive to construct and safer to drive on.

Project to commence April 2014

by Dawn Feddersen-Poindexter

Contributing Writer

 

The City of Rogers had an open house to educate the public about the upcoming construction planned at the intersection of Hwy. 101 and County Rd. 144 that will affect most people looking to commute, shop, or take their kids to school in the city.

The $22 million project will elevate Hwy. 101 above the intersection so north and southbound traffic can avoid it altogether if they don’t need to turn. Below the flyover, County Rd. 144 will be remade into a Diverging Diamond Interchange, or DDI, a relatively new type of intersection that is said to be less expensive to construct and safer to drive on.

Sean Delmore, of WSB & Associates, is the Project Manager. He said that a DDI is safer than a traditional diamond intersection because vehicles turning left do not have to cross traffic traveling in the opposite direction.

When an east or westbound vehicle enters the intersection, the two lanes headed in their direction are found on both sides by concrete barriers that lead traffic to the left side of the road. So left turns become a small movement to the left with no cross traffic interference. Vehicles not turning left simply continue on through the rest of the intersection that leads them back to the right side of the road to continue driving on 144.

Since Hwy. 101 flies over the intersection, the only vehicles at the intersection are headed east or west. Traffic lights control the flow of vehicles by alternating green lights between east and westbound lanes. So while cars going east have a green light, cars facing west are stopped by a red light until it’s their turn, when it reverses.

“It sounds a little bit weird when you explain the design to people, but you don’t really notice it when you’re driving through it. There’s a barrier between you and the other traffic and you’re basically guided through to the other side,” Delmore said.

Much of the cost savings of a DDI comes from its smaller footprint. Because it takes up less space, that means less pavement and curbs and other construction costs. And, especially for this project, a smaller intersection means less right-of-way to buy from surrounding land owners.

The intersection of Hwy. 101 and County Rd. 144 is surrounded on all sides by commercial property. Building a larger intersection would have required purchasing more land and even tearing down some commercial properties.

According to Bret Weiss, the Rogers City Engineer, this could have easily added another $5 million to the project cost.

Another thing Rogers is hoping to save on the project is time. Hwy. 101 is the busiest thoroughfare in the city, not to mention its importance to commuters who live north in Otsego, Elk River, and beyond.

The project is scheduled to start in April 2014 and be largely finished that following November.

Holly Finstad was one of a number of parents at the open house. Most wanted to know how the project would affect already difficult school traffic. But Finstad’s son, Alex, a freshman at Rogers High School, walks to school so it’s not a problem.

The real issue is that the Finstad family lives just east of Rogers Middle School. This means that just about anywhere they go for most of 2014 will be impacted by the construction.

“I think that when they’re done it’s going to be great. When they’re done it’s going to be safe. But I’m concerned that until they do finish, how are we going to get around?” Finstad wondered.

Bypass lanes will be in place along the side of 101 that will keep north and southbound traffic moving for the duration of the project. But for several months during next summer and possibly into the start of the school year, County Rd. 144 will be closed between Northdale Boulevard and James Road.

To get around the closure, traffic will be directed along James Road or Northdale Boulevard, which can be accessed at Diamond Lake Road or 147th Avenue.

By October, 2014, the project will be largely completed and by November only small details will remain.

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