MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Drivers who travel one busy highway in the west metro will need to find a different route — Highway 12 will shut down for three weeks beginning Monday.
Crews with the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be installing a concrete median on a roughly five-mile stretch of Highway 12. The road has become one of the deadliest in the state.
“It’s a narrow road and it handles a lot of traffic. The best description for it is, it’s an unforgiving room with little room for error,” MnDot’s “Towards Zero Deaths” Regional Coordinator Susan Youngs said.
Over the last five years, authorities have responded to more than 800 crashes on Highway 12 and nearly two dozen of those accidents ended in loss of life. In many cases, drivers crossed the center line, which is why MnDot plans to install the new concrete median.
“That will prevent crossover crashes where cars wander out of lane into oncoming lane of traffic,” Youngs said.
During the closure, the nearly 5 miles stretch will be blocked off between County Roads 6 and 112.
Those roads will also become the major detour routes.
“It will be significant. County Road 6 and County Road 112 will be backed up quite a bit,” Orono Police Deputy Chief Chris Fischer said.
Orono police will have officers stationed at certain intersections to help with the flow of traffic. They will be focusing their attention near the high school which is an area that already sees a lot of congestion.
Yet, for those who’ve seen the crashes first hand, traffic backups are a necessary step to safe driving on a dangerous stretch of road.
“I think it’s a good thing. We hope to have less loss of life and less serious injuries,” Deputy Chief Fischer said.
Orono police are also warning drivers that they will be out in the neighborhood watching for anyone speeding or running stop signs in the area.
MnDot is working on a plan to address safety issues all along Highway 12. Right now, funding isn’t available.