By Bill Hudson

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — When state Highway 252 was designed back in the 1970s, neighbors generally opposed a freeway design.

That’s why controlled intersections have since lined the highway’s six-mile stretch.

“I guess I can see that for the time period, but now I don’t think that’s necessary,” said local motorist Michael Lopez.

Decades later, rush hour volumes approaching 70,000 daily vehicles bring major congestion — prompting local cities and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to head back to the drawing board.

“Back in the day there wasn’t the volume of traffic we have today,” explained MnDOT spokesperson, Kent Barnard. “It served the public well for years, but we’ve noticed more motorists and we have more hours of congestion.”

The agency is currently developing proposals to address both the congestion and safety concerns of the busy corridor.

According to MnDOT’s Office of Traffic Safety, Highway 252 has five of the costliest crash intersections in the state.

Sixty-sixth Avenue stands at number two and the 85th Avenue intersection is the state’s ninth costliest in terms of crash damage. Three other intersections along the corridor are in the state’s top 100.

One way to make those areas safer is to redesign them as full-fledged interchanges.

“I would support it, I think that’s a good idea,” said Lopez.

Still, others like Brooklyn Center resident Bill Jenney isn’t fond of the idea.

“The access to get on and off is not the best. If they turn it into a freeway, I think it would be too fast of traffic and too dangerous,” said Jenney.

Creating a high-occupancy MnPASS lane from Highway 610 to the 4th Street ramp in downtown Minneapolis is another way to ease congestion. Regardless of the design, actual construction wouldn’t begin until at least 2023.

“It will make it safer for everybody. It’s obviously expensive doing that too,” said motorist Ken Shank.

Just how expensive won’t be known until a final design. Public input is being sought at three open houses on December 11, 12 and 13.

For more information, click here.

Bill Hudson