The South East Twin Cities Metro, especially the cities of South St. Paul and Inver Grove Heights are at the crossroads of the region’s transportation system. A critical upgrade is underway that will further facilitate access to the regional system from these communities through the new Wakota bridge and I494 project. Later this summer the opening of the Hardman Avenue ramps in South St. Paul will provide direct access to I-494.
The project includes the reconstruction of I-494 and Highway 61, including the replacement of the Wakota Bridge over the Mississippi River on I-494. The project also includes associated local road improvements within St. Paul and Maplewood in Ramsey County; South St. Paul in Dakota County; Newport, St. Paul Park, Woodbury, and Cottage Grove in Washington County.
The Wakota Project was started in 2002. The majority of the work along Hwy 61 and the local roadways have been completed and traffic is flowing well in the project area. I-494 has also seen significant improvements since work began. The westbound lanes and the river bridge have been completed. The eastbound lanes are completed north of Bailey Road. Work will continue in 2007 on the eastbound lanes as well as ramps in the I-494/Hwy 61 interchange area.
The new river bridges carries five lanes in each direction. The old river bridge had two lanes in each direction, narrow shoulders and no sidewalk.