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The Cost Of Safety: Fixing Highway 10 In Ramsey

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(credit: CBS) Rachel Slavik
Rachel Slavik joined the WCCO team in October of 2010 and is thrill...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Three people have died in just four months from car crashes at a certain Ramsey intersection.

For several years, there’s been a push to improve safety at the intersection of Highway 10 and Sunfish Lake Boulevard after violent crashes were caught on camera. (One such crash can be seen in the video above).

Although there’s been talk of improvement, the city and its driver are still waiting for results.

A Close Call

Every day Judy McMillen reads the headlines — well aware that last year she could have died in a violent crash.

“It happened so fast, we didn’t know what hit us,” she said.

The crash happened like this. McMillen was sitting at a stop light on a Highway 10 intersection. When the light turned green, her car began to accelerate. That’s when another car slammed into the driver’s side of McMillen’s vehicle.

“Apparently, this driver went through a red light at 68 miles an hour, and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” McMillen said.

It took 90 minutes for emergency crews to cut her from her car, and weeks for her bruising and concussion to heal. McMillen is still waiting for her hearing to come back.

“I feel like an old lady, and I’m not quite that old,” she said.

Her crash is one of dozens at the intersection in recent years. Just this summer, three people died in two separate accidents.

“There’s been several accidents there, and that indicates to me that there must be a problem,” McMillen said.

Big Fixes Don’t Come Easy

Mayor Bob Ramsey wants a major overhaul of the highway, which sees more than 40,000 cars a day.

“It’s time to upgrade to today’s standards with the traffic, the pedestrians and the bicyclists and everyone who’s using that road,” he said.

Those upgrades would include overpasses at Highway 10 intersections to separate traffic. They would also alleviate congestion when trains roll through.

But 10 years after the first improvement discussions, the road expansion hasn’t received the green light.

MnDOT planning director Brian Isaacson says surveys and studies of new roads can take years. Money can also be a problem.

“The bigger they are, the harder they are to deliver,” he said. “The issue is: It just grew to something they couldn’t afford.”

The upgrades in Ramsey would only cover a few miles for an estimated price of $300 million. That’s $12 million more than the entire crosstown overhaul.

But for driver’s like McMillen, who still travel that Highway 10 intersection, the price of safety almost cost her her life.

MnDOT said it’s about to start a new study for a Highway 10 road expansion. The city has also received approval for upgrades to one of the highway’s intersections.

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