With just days remaining in a special legislative session to finalize a two-year state budget deal before a June 30 government shutdown deadline, the Minnesota House and Senate came to an agreement on an omnibus transportation budget bill that includes $25 million in trunk highway bonds for U.S. Highway 212.

That represents the funding gap for the expansion of the 5-mile two-lane segment between Cologne and Norwood Young America. The transportation update came last week from the Southwest Corridor Transportation Coalition and local legislative leaders who have for years been pushing for improvements to the Highway 212 corridor.

This project includes upgrading the two-lane highway to a four-lane expressway, along with reconstructing key intersections as reduced conflict intersections (RCIs). Other improvements include the addition of full width shoulders and turn lanes, and replacing the County Road 51 intersection with a grade-separated interchange.

The full transportation package includes more than $115 million in general fund and trunk highway bond projects, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The total two-year budget deal being considered early this week stood at about $52 billion, which includes $1.3 billion in new spending and uses stimulus money for tax cuts on aid to businesses and workers during the pandemic.

Start of construction on the Highway 212 from Cologne to Norwood Young America is anticipated in 2024 or 2025. Meanwhile, work continues on the Highway 212 improvements from Carver to Cologne that begin this spring.

Construction crews have reopened Kelly Avenue north of Highway 212, according to project managers, and will now focus a more concentrated effort on the south side of Highway 212 between Mellgren Lane and Highway 43. The contractor continues to excavate, move, and haul soils and materials for the new road base.

Road construction is on schedule, largely due to the dry conditions and nice weather in June.

Project managers urge motorists to drive with care through the construction area. On the east end of the project area, stay in the right lane if you plan to travel through toward Chaska. The left lane of Highway 212, southwest of Fleet Farm, is being used as a U-turn to route detoured traffic back to Highway 43 and west on Highway 212.

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