As spring rolls into summer, we are about to enter every Minnesotan’s favorite season: road construction! For our part, Hennepin County provides critical linkages between city streets and the larger highway system. Each year, Hennepin County’s Public Works department undertakes a number of projects to improve our road system. This summer in the northeast part of Hennepin County we have some large projects that I would like to highlight.

In Brooklyn Park, the Bottineau Boulevard (County Road 81) reconstruction project has begun. This is a two-year project that will reconstruct Bottineau Boulevard between 71st and 85th avenues. As part of the reconstruction, improvements will be made for all road users. For drivers, there will be additional through lanes, dedicated turn lanes and traffic signal replacements; for walkers, sidewalk curb ramps, accessible pedestrian signals and countdown timers will be installed; for bikers, the Crystal Lake Regional Trail will be extended along Bottineau Boulevard. This project will mark the completion of the Bottineau Blvd reconstruction from the border of Robbinsdale to the border of Osseo.

Additionally, I’ve been working with county staff to review our landscaping policy along county roads to improve the visual aspect of our community’s corridors. In recent years, projects have been installed landscaping improvements that, at times, have languished due to lack of maintenance. This year the county adopted a new policy making it clear that the county and cities are jointly responsible for the maintenance of these investments. This summer, you may notice work installing new trees, shrubs, perennial plants and an irrigation system along Bottineau Boulevard through Robbinsdale, Crystal and Brooklyn Park. Once complete, these improvements will make the corridor much more visually appealing and should be resilient into the future with maintenance agreements between the cities and the county in place on the front end.

Finally, last year, after a number of years of planning, studying, and winning a federal transportation grant, Brooklyn Center (in partnership with Hennepin County) started work on Phase 1 of the Brooklyn Boulevard Corridor project. This construction season, residents will see finishing work taking place along Brooklyn Boulevard between 49th Avenue and Bass Lake Road. This phase of the project is anticipated to be completed in November of this year. When complete, the roadway will feature improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities, sidewalks and transit stops in addition to improved intersections, streetscaping and landscaping.

As always, I urge residents to practice patience when encountering construction projects this summer. Construction workers spend each day on the job improving our roads while we motor by. They deserve to be safe at work so please give them a brake. This construction season may prove to be a busy one, but I am looking forward to seeing the results when these exciting projects are complete in our cities.

Mike Opat is the District 1 Hennepin County Commissioner, serving Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Crystal, New Hope, Osseo and Robbinsdale.

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