Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center and Hennepin County begin study on Highway 252 interchange enhancements

Brooklyn Park’s engagement meeting, which was hosted at Discover Church, was well attended by residents. (Sun Post staff photo by Kevin Miller)
Brooklyn Park’s engagement meeting, which was hosted at Discover Church, was well attended by residents. (Sun Post staff photo by Kevin Miller)

Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, MnDOT, the Metropolitan Council and Hennepin County are working jointly on a study that will determine future locations and designs of interchanges between 66th Avenue North in Brooklyn Center and Highway 610 in Brooklyn Park,
The ultimate goal of any future project is to turn the highway into a six-lane freeway.
Brooklyn Park hosted a community engagement event Sept. 6 at Discover Church where six potential designs were unveiled, and residents were able to provide feedback. Brooklyn Center hosted a similar event at Constitution Hall in the Brooklyn Center Community Center Sept. 7.
The system planning and concept study aspect of the process is expected to last through spring 2018. Environmental documentation, detailed plan development and construction would occur later on, with construction likely starting in 2021 or 2022, according to Jeffery Holstein, Brooklyn Park transportation engineer.
As total costs for the project would likely be approximately $200 million, construction would occur as funding was made available, and would not likely occur at one time, Holstein said.
Currently, there are six traffic signals in this corridor controlling traffic flow. These intersections are the third, fourth, sixth, seventh, 14th and 18th highest-volume intersections in the state. These intersections also have some of the highest vehicle accident costs in the state. The 66th Avenue intersection had the second highest costs for vehicle crashes in the state between 2011 and 2015. The intersection at 85th Avenue is the ninth highest in the state, along with the 12th highest at 73rd Avenue, the 67th at Brookdale Drive and the 86th at Humboldt Avenue.

Residents discuss potential changes to Highway 252 with engineers.
Residents discuss potential changes to Highway 252 with engineers.

The corridor also has congestion issues, both in the morning and night rush hours, Holstein said.
A variety of interchange layouts have been proposed in the access concept plans. Partial access, full access and overpass interchanges are proposed in place of currently signalized intersections. In some cases, access to the highway at current intersections could be eliminated.
“At this point in time, I mean, really, we’re at the point now where we’re just trying to identify the different access options and go through the evaluation, have the public weigh in, have our council weigh in, everybody weigh in, and trying to get it down to a certain access configuration,” Holstein said. “And then, we’ll dive into interchange configurations.”
Estimated crash cost savings depending on the interchange layout in the corridor are approximately $3.3-3.7 million annually.
To construct a six-lane freeway in the corridor, “there is a fair amount of additional roadway work that would have to be done, but for intents and purposes, for mainline traffic, the right-of-way should be fairly adequate,” Holstein said. “Just at the interchange areas, we probably have some additional right-of-way that would need to be acquired.”
Brooklyn Center recently completed a smaller corridor study of the highway, focusing primarily on the 66th and 70th Avenue intersections. The Brooklyn Center council approved a layout for a new interchange at 66th Avenue and a pedestrian bridge at 70th Avenue. The interchange at 66th Avenue has received $7 million in federal funding and would likely be the first interchange constructed as part of the project, Holstein said.