Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 169 Eagles Nest Lake

Six Mile Lake Road to Bradach Road

Project news

I-494 Ramp Closures
Hwy 169 Eagles Nest Alternatives. Click for larger PDF version.

Oct. 10, 2014 project status meeting

About 50 people attended the October 10 project status meeting.

There was a short presentation and then MnDOT engineers answered questions about the project.

Environmental Review Process

  • Purpose and Need – EPA and COE Concurrence (Completed)
  • Alternative Analysis - EPA and COE Concurrence (Completed)
  • Cooperating Agency Review Draft EA – (now in progress)
  • EA Publication/Public Comment Period/Public Hearing – Opportunity for public comments on EA content, including social, economic, and environmental impacts and minimization/mitigation measures. EA will identify a preferred alternative.
  • MnDOT and FHWA review of comments, and make decision if there is potential for significant impacts.

Project Schedule - Steps For Completion

  • Complete Environmental Documentation
    • Review Draft Environmental Assessment to FHWA and Cooperating Agencies- October 2014 (Completed)
    • EA Public Comment Period/Hearing – Dec/Jan 2014-5
    • Alignment Selection – February 2015
  • Final Plans – Fall 2016
  • ROW Acquisition Complete – December 2016
  • Permitting - December 2016
  • Construction – Goal is Begin in Winter of 2016/2017

Layout alternatives currently being studied (See layouts above)

  • Two middle routes are being considered: One would require a detour, the other would not.
  • South route: No extended period of traffic detours are anticipated.
  • Alternative 2A ─ a combination of the orange line on the top layoute and the blue line on the bottom layout.
  • Alternative 3A ─ a combination of the orange line on the top layout and the red line on the bottom layout.
    • Mike Kalnbach, Hwy 169 Eagles Nest project manager, answers questions after the presentation.

      Phoo of people looking at the layout alternatives for the Hwy 169 Eagles Nest project.

Public meetings


The Hwy 1/169 corridor in the Ely area has an average annual daily traffic of 2,600 (2011 traffic counts). Several transportation-related deficiencies have been identified on this corridor, including horizontal and vertical curves, narrow shoulders and steep roadside drops. Trees and vegetation are encroaching on sight lines, there are few turn lanes and few opportunities to safely pass. These deficiencies contribute to higher than average crash rates in the district. This project is being developed to address these deficiencies, and includes a 5.7 mile reconstruction and the addition of turn lanes and select passing zones.

Eighteen alternatives have been analyzed within the Eagles Nest Corridor. MnDOT worked closely with the Hwy 169 Task Force in the selection and evaluation of these alternatives. The following criteria was evaluated for each alternative:

  • Roadway shading problems/maintenance costs
  • Roadway geometrics/passing opportunities
  • Property impacts (right of way needs)
  • Environmental impacts (noise, wetlands, sulfide rock)
  • Construction staging

    Minimum design criteria

    • Design speed - 55 mph
    • Travel lanes - 12-feet-wide
    • Shoulders - Eight-feet-wide (six-feet paved and two-feet gravel)
    • Reduce the length of shaded areas of roadway
    • Minimize environmental impacts

About this project

Summary of work

  • Improve 5.7 miles of Hwy 169
  • Complete reconstruction in areas to be realigned, while other areas will be widened and resurfaced


  • $19.2 million
  • Route alternative cost estimates:
    • Middle Route $17.3 million
    • South Route $21.6 million
    • Aternative 2A—being determined
    • Alternative 3A—being determined


  • 1999/2000—the Hwy 169 Task Force was formed
  • 2001—the task force published the Hwy 169 North Improvement Plan
  • 2005—High Priority Projects Funds were authorized for the Hwy 169 corridor
  • 2005–2011—MnDOT worked with the task force to develop and analyze 18 design alternatives for the Eagles Nest Corridor
  • 2010—A Preferred Alternative (the South Route) was selected. This route was primarily on new roadway alignment.
  • 2010—As part of the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process MnDOT developed a document outlining the purpose and need for the project.
  • Late-2011—The cooperating agencies; the Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, questioned the purpose and need of the project and the significant potential environmental impacts.
  • March 2012—MnDOT determined that there was significant project risk in carrying forward the preferred alternative in light of the feedback received from the initial environmental review comments.
  • Summer 2012—MnDOT initiated the development of an additional alternative within the existing roadway corridor using MnDOT’s recently developed performance-based design standards.
  • Summer 2014—MnDOT presents Alternative 2A and Alternative 3A.