New projects aim to save lives on Minnesota's Highway 12

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In 2015, Tina Langhans' daughter Chelsea was heading east on Highway 12 in Long Lake, Minnesota when a driver crossed the center median and hit her head-on. The 25-year-old didn’t survive.

“It was hell. It was probably the worst nightmare that any parent could face,” Langhans said.

At 38 miles long, with one lane in each direction, Highway 12 stretches from the western border of Wayzata all the way to the western side of Wright County.

For years, it was considered one of the most dangerous roads in the state.

Now, Langhans' loss is a catalyst for change.

In 2016, a concrete median barrier was placed between a 6-mile stretch of east and westbound traffic, significantly reducing the number of fatalities and crashes.

And more safety improvements are down the road.

“Together we can make Highway 12 a safer road,” said Chief Gary Kroels with West Hennepin Public Safety.

Beginning in 2021, MnDOT will begin work on a $22 million project that will extend the center concrete barrier between County Road 6 and Baker Road in Maple Plaine.

In Independence, a roundabout will be built at Highway 12 and County Road 90, and the intersection at County road 92 will also be improved.

“I think that these are three good solutions that will put us on track for making safer intersection control,” Chief Kroels said.

Langhans hopes all the projects will help save lives.

“To have anyone die on that road is senseless because it could have been avoided day one when the road was built and it wasn’t. So, we had to work to get it fixed and we did that, and that’s what makes me happy. No one else will die in a head-on collision on the expressway, on Highway 12.”