Mendota Heights, Minn. mayor pushing for changes to Hwy 110

- It's a battle pitting the Minnesota Department of Transportation against the City of Mendota Heights when it comes to the future of Highway 110.

The road linking I-35E and I-494 is set for a major re-pavement and safety enhancement project in 2017 and there are some in Mendota Heights, including the city’s mayor, who want to see speeds lowered on the well-traveled expressway in the southeast metro. They point out that a lot of drivers currently use Highway 110 as an alternate route when I-494 gets crowded.

The speed limit is 55 mph right thru the heart of Mendota Heights.

Tom Wichelmann has owned OneTen Cycles for about a dozen years. He loves everything about his Mendota Heights shop that sits right along the highway. But, his lone request going forward is to slow down the traffic on the highway.

“When you try to enter on 110 from 35, it’s a little tough because of the speeds traffic is already going. And the same thing when you go on from Lexington,” Wichelmann said. “Plus for visibility for our business, we’d love to see people slow down and be able to see our store front a little better.”

Highway 110 is a 5.25 mile state highway running from I-494 in the east to the MN 55/13 interchange near the Minnesota River on its western edge.

It crosses I-35E with a speed limit of 55 miles and draws some 25,000 vehicles per day.

MNDOT classifies a large portion of Highway 110 in the same category as a freeway.

But there are some at Mendota Heights City Hall, including Mayor Sandra Krebsbach, who views Highway 110 in the future, less as a thoroughfare, and more like a community parkway with a reduced speed limit. Wichelmann agrees.

“I think something like that would be great. We could tie-in with a lot of the bike trails that we have here,” Wichelmann said.

Next year, MNDOT is scheduled to launch a major re-pavement and safety improvement project along Highway 110 between I-35E and I-494.

The Mendota Heights mayor worries the upgrades are meant to turn the highway into a speedier, more appealing interstate alternative that would leave her community as an afterthought for commuters in this corner of the metro.

She recently penned a letter to the MNDOT commissioner that reads in part, “I am concerned MNDOT is turning a Mendota Heights main street into an expressway, which puts Mendota Heights residents, business owners, employees and students in harm’s way.”

But MNDOT construction project manager Molly Kline says that’s not so.

“No, we are not looking for an autobahn or interstate here. Just an expressway. The goal is to move traffic.”

MNDOT has said there are zero plans to turn Highway 110 into a slower parkway through Mendota Heights, explaining that the rest of the metro traffic network could not handle it.

However, one big safety improvement is coming for residents during construction next year. Dakota County is adding an underpass pedestrian crossing to get people from one side of Highway 110 to the other at the busy Dodd Road intersection.

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