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Snowguy716

Freeway history in your city.

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Here's a bit of one for Minneapolis/St. Paul, mostly dealing with the bridges. I had meant this to be an answer of the question regarding bridge colors, but I feel it fits better here.

Below is a picture of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, MN. It is military green, but wasn't built until 1967. That'd have to be one hell of a surplus of paint :)

I35W_Bridge.jpg

Here is the bridge over the Minnesota River,

i35wminn01.jpg

This bridge project has probably been the biggest disaster and headache for MnDOT officials and residents that have to cross the bridge. It was opened in 1960 but at the time, 35W only went as far as MN-13, a little over a mile past the bridge on the south side. Residents called it "The bridge to nowhere." By 1980 with fast growing suburbs south of the river, the 4 lane freeway had famous traffic jams. In 1984, a 3rd lane was added to each side, and a year later, it was discovered that there was a subsoil problem under the bridge/freeway, and the new lanes remained closed until the mid-1990s when the state found the money to complete the project. And while the bridge cannot flood, the causeway leading to the crossing at the north end is quite low and has flooded. In 2001, officials had to build temporary dykes, closing a lane on each side of the freeway, to prevent the river from flooding the freeway and making it impassible.

Also a problem are large hills on both sides of the bridge. Traffic slows naturally going up the hills and creates problems. Also people screaming down the hill tend to see the bridge and slow down a bit. It still backs up to this day at rush hour.

Here is the I-35E bridge crossing the Mississippi River in Mendota Heights, MN. This one appears to be black.

i35e04.jpg

Here is the I-94 bridge over the Mississippi crossing from Minneapolis into St. Paul. This one also appears to be black or dark brown.

dartmouth01.jpg

Here is the I-494 bridge over the Mississippi River that closed this winter.

i-494_wb_mississippi_river_bridge.jpg

The I-94 bridge over the St. Croix River at the Minnesota/Wisconsin border.

i94interstate01.jpg

And just for fun, the MN-36/WI-64 Stillwater Bridge. The picture was taken during spring when water was high on the St. Croix. This bridge floods frequently, but is famous and local residents and just about everybody else have opposed a new 4 lane bridge to replace it.

stillwater02.jpg

In fact, most bridges in Minnesota seem to be brown or simply cream/white/concrete color. The military green rule does not seem to apply for river bridges, at least.

A good example is the Bloomington Ferry Bridge (US-169) over the Minnesota river. It was completed in 1997 I believe. Before the bridge was completed, U.S-169 aligned with U.S. 212 over the river.

Old 212/169 crossing mn101old01.jpg

Here it is just after the river at the intersection of 101/169. This is still part of the Ferry Bridge.

bf07.jpg

And over the river itself, again, brown:

bf11.jpg

The old Bloomington Ferry Bridge, which was a low lying 1 lane bridge over the Minnesota river became horribly obsolete by the time it was replaced. The small, winding, 2 lane road went down into the river valley with a 90 degree turn on one end of the bridge and nearly reached river level before crossing with a wood deck bridge. The river flooded high enough to cover the road in the valley about once every three years and the floods often washed out the road, keeping the bridge closed all spring and well into summer. Plans to replace the bridge had been in progress for years, and in the late 1980s, funding was finally approved to build a new bridge. The supporter beams went up, and then in 1993 the famous summer floods destroyed the new bridge (still under construction). A new bridge was immediately approved and built. (ABove). Here are some pictures of a bike trail/bridge that were constructed after the old bridge was torn down. You can see how the road follows the river for a while. Before the new bridge was built, the Ferry Bridge was actually a part of CSAH-18, which is now named "Old Ferry Bridge Road" and runs along the valley on the north side of the river. When the new bridge was completed and aligned with U.S 169, this road was also redone.

oldferry02.jpg

Here you see the old road bed, now a paved bike trail. The missing section is actually where flood waters came up and washed the pavement away.

oldferry04.jpg

Minnesota has a tradition of waiting WAY too long before replacing old bridges, so you get huge contrasts from old to new. The Cedar Ave. bridge, built in 1890, was not replaced until 1980. The bridge was 1 lane and a middle section turned to allow barge traffic through. Until the new bridge was built, only 3 bridges crossed into the south Metro: The Cedar Avenue bridge and the Bloomington Ferry bridge, both 1 lane, and the I-35W bridge. The 169 bridge into Shakopee was too far out of hte way for commuters in the faster growing suburbs to the east. The new Ferry Bridge increased the capacity many fold and since Savage and Shakopee have boomed. Getting back to the old bridges, though. Each spring, the river would flood, closing the two smaller bridges, making 35W the only convenient crossing of the river, snarling traffic for miles.

Old Cedar Ave. Bridge

oldcedarbr02.jpg

oldcedarbr03.jpg

New

mn77cedar01.jpg

mn77cedar03.jpg

Even the new bridge backs up thanks to a series of poorly planned exits north of the bridge. What was once a main artery avenue is now a 4 to 6 lane freeway serving as a convenient route to the airport, Mall of America, and suburbs Eagan and Apple Valley.

When my grandparents first moved to Bloomington in 1951, there were no interstates in the Twin Cities. My grandfather commuted along city streets all the way to downtown, taking about 30-45 minutes depending on the traffic. Communities south of the river began to explode in population and traffic snarled horribly at the Minnesota River.

Just after my grandparents moved in, about 3 blocks east of the proposed I-35W (the freeway was always called 35W, though 35E was built some time after 35W). Hundreds of brand new houses were taken through imminent domain and a new corridor was built.

Minneapolis and St. Paul have a horrible time of it with traffic because massive sections of the cities were built before freeways ever entered the picture, so the freeways are built in tight corridors with little room for expansion. The freeway has already maxed out to the sound barriers through Bloomington and any future expansion will either mean removal of more houses/businesses or having to get creative.

Another controversial subject, especially in St. Paul's black community was the construction of I-94 between the cities in the 1960s. The proposed and eventually approved route aligned along Rondo Avenue, the heart of St. Paul's historical black community. The freeway, which is sunken here, would cut right through the middle of the community and many houses would be torn down. Old Rondo Ave. now parallels the freeway as a frontage road. The city does hold the Days of Rondo festival each year to celebrate the city's black heritage.

The interstates also came to the Twin Cities in blocks and rather late compared to other cities. Below is a map of Freeways in Minneapolis and when they were built:

hwy.gif

The first freeway to be built was 35W across the river into Bloomington. Bloomington's population had grown from 9500 in 1950 to 55,000 in 1960 and 80,000 in 1970, so the freeway was needed here as most jobs were still located downtown. The freeway has become much more congested as suburbs south of Bloomington are growing rapidly (Burnsville, Farmington, Lakeville) and job growth is exponential along the "Bloomington Strip." Best Buy, Inc. located its headquarters there along with a large Wells Fargo operation, the airport, and Mall of America.

Originally, 35W was to cross the proposed MN-62 "Crosstown" freeway and then veer to the east a couple blocks and align with Lyndale Ave. into the SW side of downtown. Huge local opposition was met, however, and the freeway was aligned several blocks to the east. Because of this, 35W merges with "Crosstown" 62 for about a half mile before moving north again. With both 35W and 62 being extremely busy freeways, it is the busiest section of freeway in the metro, but is far from the largest section of freeway. 4 lanes of Crosstown and 6 lanes of 35W merge into 6 lanes of merged road, which backs up traffic from all ends, coming from every direction at virtually any time of day from 7:30am-7pm or so. The Crosstown is basically a parking lot because there is only 1 lane in each direction that stays with 62 the whole way. Luckily, the recent expansion of 494 to the south has relieved traffic a bit, but not nearly enough.

The result of this poor planning at 35W/62 has been that road crews have been working on the road pretty constantly since it was built, causing further delays.

In 2006, the governor got into some heat when his Lt. Governor and head of the MnDOT decided to fund the complete overhaul and reconstruction of the "Crosstown Commons" by accepting bids and asking construction firms to front the money and accept a delayed payment from the state. Nobody bid. The project was pushed off another year. The project will take 4 years to complete, has forced hundreds from their homes since the "double decker" approach was deemed too expensive, and access will be further limited to the whole mess as ramps will be permanently removed. In the end, the freeways will parallel each other in the same road bed, but will never merge.

Another brain-dead decision by the state when rebuilding freeways was the re-alignment and reconstruction of U.S-169 from the Crosstown (62) to the new Bloomington Ferry Bridge. 169 has over the years been converted from a 4 lane highway with traffic lights into a freeway from "The Devil's Triangle" (another huge bottle neck at 694/94, 169, and MN-81 (where 169 becomes a regular access road and traffic backs up for miles at the traffic lights) to I-494 in the SW metro. The road has traffic problems, however, because there are a series of exits that are very short and make a 90 degree turn and immediately dump onto an intersection between a city street and a frontage road. If you don't begin slowing down considerably before you actually leave the freeway, you'll be careening dangerously around a corner and into someone's front yard.

Rather than creating a complete freeway all the way past Shakopee, the freeway was completed from the Crosstown to 494 and then from Shakopee to the Ferry bridge, about 2 miles south of 494. Between the Ferry Bridge and 494, officials ran out of money and put in a full access, signal controlled highway instead. The lights at 494 back traffic up for several miles on either end at rush hour. Since, the state has re-built controlled access ramps and bridges at all intersections up to 494, but that intersection, the one that backs up traffic most, remains with traffic lights. How much would it honestly cost to build a cloverleaf, rather than a "cloverleaf" with traffic lights, which is currently in place?

Otherwise, the metro has been near the top in the country for congestion growth over the past 15 years. Large freeway widening projects were recently completed on 694 and 494 in the west Metro which has alleviated huge traffic jams, but congestion continues to grow.

With the completion of Business spur freeway 394 in the early 1990s, and the conversion of highways 169 and 100 into freeways have alleviated traffic in the west metro, but most of the population growth in the metro has been to the east in the suburbs of St. Paul, where freeways have been largely neglected (though they were built better in the first place). Commuters have relied more and more on 94, 35E, 35W north of Minneapolis, and MN-36 to get to the fast growing areas of the northern and northeast metro. MN-36 is currently being completely rebuilt and will be completely closed for a year.

So, I'd say, all in all, I give Minnesota an F on freeway construction. We have drastically underfunded our roads since the 1980s, instead giving out tax rebates, cutting taxes, and opting to leave the gas tax where it has been for 20 years. Congestion has skyrocketed and rural roads and bridges are deteriorating. Cities and counties are wary to raise property taxes to pay for road improvements because property taxes are already rising from 5-15% per year due to reduced local aid from the state government.

Mayors in the suburbs have written satirical letters to the editor thanking special interest groups like the MN Taxpayers league, which argues for lower taxes at any expense by applauding them for forcing government into creative thinking when it comes to roads. The mayor of Minnetonka proposed cutting funding to city streets and letting them become laden with pot holes, which would slow down traffic and reduce the need for police because reduced speeds would mean safer streets, which is clearly a win-win situation for all.

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It's a pretty short history here...we have none! I-20 runs about 15 or 20 miles North of town.

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Greater Charlotte:

I-85:

First proposed and constructed as a new alignment for US29, with the surface-street alignment of 29 through Charlotte and Gastonia to be re-signed as US29 Business/US 74. When the project was incorporated into I-85, the re-signing of US29 was cancelled. Major widening and rehabilitation of 85 took place between Kings Mountain and the 85/29 connector split during the 1980s and 90s, with very slow extension into Cabarrus County since.

by 1960 - from Franklin Blvd in Gastonia (near Eastridge Mall) to US29 just S of the NC49 interchange. A small portion of the west end of this segment became a connector in Gastonia between US74/29 and the completed 85, before being converted into a surface street.

1960-1965 - from Eastridge area in Gastonia south into SC

1969 - from just north of Sugar Creek Rd in Charlotte to China Grove. US29 from NC49 to China Grove had previously been signed as "Temporary I-85." The eastern tip of the previous I-85 alignment became a short 85-US29 connector.

I-77:

Section from US21 in N York County (the curve that presently divides into SC/NC51 and Carowinds Blvd) to I-85 was first planned as the "North-South Freeway" ~1954. A few years later the alignment was shifted slightly - the planned alignment between Nations Ford Road and West Boulevard ran slightly to the west of the completed alignment.

Section north of I-85 was first discussed as part of a "North Carolina Turnpike." This was never formally proposed or planned, though it was studied briefly; the introduction of the interstate system supplanted these plans. The original plan was for a toll road - one leg would run NNE from Gastonia to Statesville, the other N from Charlotte; the two toll roads would meet somewhere near Statesville and continue north into VA, theoretically as a southern extention of the WVA Tpk.

The formal proposal became a free interstate in 1958 when I-77 was added at the last minute into the initial interstate proposal. 77 through Mecklenburg County became (adjusting for inflation) the most expensive single road in NC history; I don't know if it still holds that record.

1960-1970 - I-77 from just S of Carowinds to the Brookshire Freeway opens S-to-N in stages; likewise for sections from Davidson to 2 miles N of I-40. This left a gap from Brookshire Fwy in Charlotte to Davidson.

1976 - Brookshire-to-Davidson stretch completed. This road was constructed using unusual construction techniques as a continual stretch of concrete and a crossover interchange with I-85. Both had to be reconstructed within 15 years - pieces of the highway began disintegrating within a decade, and the tight inside cloverleaves at the 85 interchange became notorious for truck accidents. Since the road rehab, widening has been occurring in stages.

I-277 (Brookshire Frwy & John Belk Freeway), NC 16 & Independence Freeway:

Northern portion was first proposed as the "East-West Freeway" in the 1950s. John Belk Frwy section was proposed at the same time (name?). Initial plans were for a downtown loop, that would tie into freeway-grade upgrades to Independence Blvd east of Memorial Stadium and Belhaven (now Brookshire) Blvd from the Belhaven/Rozzelles Ferry/W Trade intersection area NW towards Paw Creek.

The 277 loop and Brookshire Freeway NW opened between the 1960s and 1980s:

1969-72: Brookshire Freeway from Belhaven (renamed Brookshire) Blvd to Independence Blvd.

1980s: John Belk Freeway in stages.

Signing as I-277 between 1981 and 1988.

Freeway upgrades to NC16 (Brookshire Blvd) remained as non-TIP "no-timetable" proposals from the 1950s until the early 1990s. The plans resurfaced briefly, with a slightly relocated NC16 freeway that would have run up Stewart Creek, crossing I-85 3/4 miles W of Beatties Ford Rd on a new interchange, and then curving around the NE side of Hoskins, to reconnect to the present NC16 alignment E of the water plant. Neigborhood concerns killed this proposal for good.

Plans to upgrade Independence into a freeway lingered from the 1950s until the 1980s. Upgrades began in stages, moving eastward, starting in the late 1980s.

I-485:

First discussed in the 1960s, first plans were developed in the mid-1970s. First route proposals were solidified in the mid-1970s. Routing from I-77S to US74 in Matthews and from 74 in Matthews to I-85N near Cabarrus County line generated vehement protest; both alignments were shifted several miles farther out into Mecklenburg County. A third, later attempt at shifting the route (between I-85S near Tuckaseegee Road to just S of Oakdale Road) was unsuccessful as it came after right-of-way had been purchased and the suggested realignment would have run very close to the Catawba River.

A short (1 mile) section of 485 was constructed in 1969 as a 2nd I-85/US29 connector near the Cabarrus County line. The next oldest section of 485 opened between South Blvd and NC51 in the late 1980s.

Billy Graham Pkwy and Josh Birmingham Pkwy:

Graham Pkwy was forst planned in the 1960s, Birmingham Pkwy plans arose with the planning of the airport expansion.

Both opened in 1981, with Graham scaled back to an expressway with surface intersections instead of interchanges, though an interchange was later constructed at Tyvola. Old plans (1960s/70s) are for Birmingham to be extended west to directly connect with I-485, though airport expansion may have made this unbuildable. The I-85/Little Rock interchange is configured to allow a freeway or expressway link directly into the airport from 85, crossing Wilkinson, though I don't know if there are definite plans for this at this time.

Planned, not built, or not yet built:

Garden Pkwy: First surfaced in the late 1960s as a proposal for an unnamed freeway, conceived with no specific funding, route or timetable. No further planning or discussion from the 1970s until ~2000, when current planning for a toll road revived the idea.

NC49: Mid-late 1960s non-specific plan for a freeway on a new alignment that would extend the I-85/US29 connector (just s of NC49 interchange) ENE into Cabarrus as a southern bypass of Harrisburg. No specific planning, route or funding was worked out, and the idea died very quickly. Current DOT plans are for the entire NC49/US64 corridor between Charlotte, Asheboro and Cary to be upgraded, first to a divided highway, with later upgrades to freeway, in some locations at least. Upgrading to expressway is very slowly underway, and sections of NC49 (between Richfield and Asheboro) were initially constructed with wide ROW for future expansion, though if completed, this will be a very long-range project.

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The Connecticut (Greenwich to Killingly) Turnpike opened in the late 50s and early 60s. The part northward from East Lyme/Waterford line was numbered Route 52, an alternate for Route 12. An extension to Danielson was built shortly afterwards, then climbed northward. It eventually made it to the Mass. State Line in the late 60s. The entire highway was completed by about 1977 or so. In 1983 or 84, it became I-395 when the Hartford to Providence I-84 was scrapped.

http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/i395.html

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