Route numbering. Minnesota's not too bad when it comes to the layout of its routes, but there are a few changes I'd recommend to match the highways as they now are built (some of these are remnants of the 1950s and 60s vintage route system).

1.  MN-60 West of U.S. 169 to become U.S. 77.  This is an important route with a high traffic count that leads to Sioux City IA and down into Nebraska. I don't think having IA/MN-60 become its own separate U.S. route (like 375) is called for; rather, I would extend U.S. 77 a relatively short distance along U.S. 75 north of Sioux City, then onto IA-60 and MN-60. For now, I'd terminate it at the junction with 169 west of Mankato (I thought about overlaying it on U.S. 169 to Shakopee and then following existing MN-13 (see below) to MN-55, but that's a long overlay ending with a short independent segment on a road that isn't a true connecting route.)

2.  Extend U.S. 212 east along MN-62, 55 and 110 to I-494 in Inver Grove Heights.  With completion of the new 212 freeway, this is a major route from the southwest into Minneapolis, and the designation should extend at least as far as I-35W to provide the direct connection to Minneapolis. But, to keep most of the "Crosstown" under one designation, I'd keep 212 going (as a U.S., not a state route). It can route concurrent with 55 across the Mendota Bridge and onto 110 east to I-494, providing another link to I-35W from the east as well. The remaining piece of 62, from U.S. 169 west to I-494 can become MN-162, thus eliminating that route duplication. So, you'd have to get used to hearing about the "212 Crosstown."

3.  MN-13 and old MN-101 from U.S. 169 at Shakopee, east to MN-55 gets a single designation.  MN-13 makes a sharp turn here at old 101, unlike its pre-1960s layout when it was a more angled route to the northeast.   In a couple of years, 13 south will be an offramp from 13 north/old 101.  The route along the south side of the Minnesota River should have a uniform designation. You could make it most anything you want, but I would combine 101 and 13 to get...MN-131.  Northeast of 55, turn it back as county roads.

4.  MN-371 to become the extension of MN-15.  Those have never been combined into a single route, but now together they form a single route up the middle of the state, from the Iowa border south of Fairmont to U.S. 2 east of Bemidji.  There would be a concurrent section with U.S. 10 from Sauk Rapids to Little Falls, but only about 27 miles.371 was, of course, a U.S. route back in the early days of that system when single-state routes were acceptable, but was renumbered as a state route in the 1970s. Even though the combined route would extend across the Iowa border, there are no connections in that state that would warrant establishing a new U.S. route (and 371 has been reused anyway). So, go with the lower number.

Fix those bottlenecks!!
Jump to my list of the worst interchanges in the Twin Cities.

Put control destinations on Twin Cities freeway interchange signs. Long ago, some visionary decided that freeway guide signs in the Twin Cities area would not use control destinations to help motorists navigate. Freeways here do not have names, and so (with rare exception) only route numbers and directions are used inside the beltway. Traveling through Minneapolis and St. Paul, the control destinations of St. Cloud, Albert Lea, Madison and Duluth are not mentioned until the driver is well through the core cities (generally) at the beltway. Drive through Kansas City if you want to see good use of control cities on freeway signs, especially along the beltways.

Some ideas for control cities would be to establish a few larger and/or edge-of-town suburbs that would serve as meaningful controls: Bloomington, Shakopee, Anoka, Maple Grove, Chaska, Apple Valley. 

The worst interchanges. Here's my top list:

1. I-35W/I-494. A straight cloverleaf (so no diagram needed), but there are no C/D lanes on either roadway. And, the loops carry as much traffic as the straighter ramps, so the weaving on and under the bridge is significant. This cries out for flyover ramps, but until a decision is made (and funding appears) for widening 494, nothing will be done. There are some very nice buildings such as the Best Buy world headquarters nestled in the curves of the outer ramps, too, meaning that expansion of the interchange will be very $pendy. This is currently shown on planning documents as a post-2010 project.

Improvements: Any further widening of 494 would require reconstruction of the entire interchange. One clever plan that requires little additional land uses one flyover ramp (N to W) with widened loops extending beyond the directional ramps of the semi-cloverleaf.

2. I-694/U.S. 10-MN-51. Both 10 and 51, which are designed here to be continuations of each other, enter 694 from the left, and the other route exits shortly thereafter from the right. On top of that, the right hand lane of 694 (2 lanes wide at this point) exits to each of these roads, meaning that 694 traffic has to shift left, while traffic attempting to traverse this travesty weaves right. I have never figured out the rationale for this design; it appears the designer assumed a large percentage of the traffic on 694 exiting onto 10 west and (since 51 was originally the route of 10 going toward St. Paul) east.

Improvements: That part of 694 is slated for widening sometime after 2012.

3. I-494/U.S. 169. Believe it or not, this interchange has been moved from "most improved" to "worst" due to increasing congestion overwhelming an inadequate reconstruction attempt.  The original design was that the southbound U.S. 169 freeway (remember that it was originally a Hennepin County freeway) ended at [get this!] a diamond interchange with I-494. The left lane was dedicated to a turn onto eastbound 494 --- not too bad since the continuation onto what was then CSAH 18 was onto a two-lane road. Signals at each ramp backed traffic up. Then, U.S. 169 was rerouted over old CSAH 18 and reconstructed (originally) as an expressway with signalized intersections.  The 494 interchange was replaced by a 3/4 cloverleaf, that still has signals for each frontage road.  There is no loop for the eastbound 494 to northbound 169 movement, since most of the traffic going that way will use the 212 shortcut just west of there. A second reconstruction is needed to eliminate the two signals at the frontage roads now that 169  has been upgraded to full freeway south of 494 (there is still a signal at an intersection just south of the interchange, though). FHwA rejected MnDOT's design that could have qualified for ARRA funding in 2009 due to the lack of an eastbound I-494 to north U.S. 169 ramp, but this design has resurfaced and the partial interchange will be reconstructed. The missing movement will be  available using U.S. 212.

4. MN-62/MN-77. Hard to pick the least of the worst (with so many other candidates), but I pick this one. Like the 35W-494 interchange, it's a straight cloverleaf with no C/D lanes and lots of loop traffic. In the morning, traffic waiting to take the loop from north 77 to west 62, headed for downtown, has to creep along for as much as a mile, with last-second cut-ins added to make things interesting. Unfortunately, this probably won't be improved until a decision is made on a long-term plan to move the MSP Airport terminal to the north side, which would require significant reconstruction along 62. It really needs a good flyover ramp from north to west, and that would take out some homes along the north side of 62.

Improvements: None planned that I've seen. Probably, like I noted above, awaiting a decision on moving the airport terminal.

Most Improved. Some previous trouble spots have been successfully rebuilt. These include:

1. I-35E/I-94/U.S. 52. "Spaghetti Junction" in downtown St. Paul was a bear even before the southbound segment of I-35E was built. I-94 was intended to have a one-half mile commons with 35E, and had a full interchange with the Lafayette Bridge junction (MN-3, now U.S. 52) that was not accessible to southbound I-35E traffic. Worst aspects: lefthand exits and entrances, the need to weave across three lanes of traffic to go from northbound Lafayette Bridge to north 35E, tight turns, and only two through lanes of traffic on I-94. When the last segment of 35E was built, this section was rebuilt as well. Both directions of 35E come in on both sides of 94 so there is no need to weave to exit onto 94 or continue on 35E. All major ramps are on the right. Curves were softened. Heck...MnDOT even raised the speed limit through this stretch from 50 to 55. Three through lanes on I-94. And, there is a direct ramp from southbound 35E to 52 rather than a detour over city streets. It really isn't bad!

2. I-694/I-35E. Looked like a simple interchange (or rather, two directional "T" interchanges with a short commons section). However, to continue on either route, you had to weave counter to the traffic coming from the other route within a half-mile section. Add to that some interesting lane drops, and you had the potential for disastrous accidents. This was reconstructed with strategically placed flyovers to keep I-694 traffic on the right and I-35E traffic on the left to minimize weaving.

3. I-394/MN-100. Maybe it isn't fair to compare a pre-interstate interchange with the new interstate-quality interchange. But, the old loops featured no acceleration lanes from U.S. 12 onto 100. After all, in 1937 when it was built, who know about acceleration lanes? Now, you have a choice to enter (or exit) the infamous "Sane Lane" headed toward downtown Minneapolis. This is still a congested interchange, unfortunately.

4. Crosstown Commons.  Actually, this is a placeholder but with the worst interchange ever being reconstructed I couldn't keep it in the "worst" category. By 2010 this will be much better - and I will provide an update to this listing. See for updates on progress.

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Originally uploaded December 19, 1997 Last updated April 24, 2010