About this project
The Highway 101 Study Corridor has three distinct geographic parts. The northern portion of the study area is upland from the Minnesota River and undergoing considerable development. The midsection of the corridor hillside and bluff area of the study corridor is currently sparsely populated, wooded, very scenic, and topographically challenging. The southern portion of the project area is in or near the Minnesota River Valley, including the intersection of Old U.S. Highway 212 and the river crossing into Scott County. The appropriateness of solutions for MN Highway 101 will recognize the unique distinctions, needs, and issues between these geographic parts.
Lands adjacent to the northern, upland portions of the MN Highway 101 Corridor are expected to develop in the next five years. Additional local traffic will occur on the Corridor. With the new U.S. Highway 212 corridor from CSAH 4 to CSAH 11 expected to open in fall 2008, traffic volumes along the corridor are anticipated to increase. In addition, travel in the MN Highway 101 Corridor between Carver and Scott Counties is also expected to increase as the Southwestern Metropolitan Area continues to develop. The proposed improvements will need to consider and address several issues along the corridor and within the study area (see maps).
Corridor safety deficiencies
The corridor has several major safety concerns based on its current design. Highway 101 has steep grades and numerous curves. There is a 200 ft. change in elevation between the river bottom (near the Old U.S. Highway 212/MN Highway 101 “wye” intersection) and the developed areas at the top of the bluff, creating steep grades. The grades require more than normal driver attention. Long stretches of braking conditions and difficult travel conditions are caused by slick pavement during rainy conditions and in the winter due to ice and snow. Less than adequate sight distances along the corridor create blind public street intersections and driveways. Steep grades are present north of Old U.S. Highway 212 and a blind trail intersection is located north of Old U.S. Highway 212. A major challenge will be to correct these deficiencies in a setting that is expected to contain numerous threatened and endangered species, undisturbed wooded areas, and cultural resources immediately adjacent to the current MN Highway 101.
Improve operation of the old Hwy 212/Hwy 101 intersection at the "Wye"
The “wye” intersection consists of three separate intersections that operate with a triad of traffic signals. The MN Highway 101 north/old U.S. Highway 212 intersection at the bottom of the bluff is offset from the “wye” intersection by several hundred feet and is controlled by a fourth traffic signal. The resultant configuration is confusing to drivers unfamiliar with the intersection and, in spite of modern traffic control devices, cannot safely and effectively serve current traffic levels, especially during peak periods. Potential solutions need to remove the confusion at this intersection and provide greater capacity in order to allow it to operate as smoothly as possible to accommodate existing traffic volumes and future traffic growth.
Improve ability to function as a minor arterial roadway
MN Highway 101 has been classified as a Minor Arterial roadway by the Metropolitan Council, Mn/DOT’s Transportation System Plan, as well as in the Comprehensive Transportation Plans of Carver County and the City of Chanhassen. A minor arterial roadway has the important responsibility of efficiently and safely distributing vehicle trips from collector and local roadways to and from principal arterial roadways (such as U.S. Highway 212). Therefore, safety and capacity improvements are needed on Highway 101 to allow it to properly function as a minor arterial.
MN Highway 101 also serves local land uses by providing a collector roadway function even though it is designated as a Minor Arterial roadway. The topographic and natural environmental challenges of the area and local street development patterns that have evolved over time do not include collector streets adjacent to MN Highway 101 to collect and distribute local street trips. Therefore, MN Highway 101 also effectively serves a dual function in the roadway functional classification hierarchy.
Accommodate future traffic and development growth associated with greater connectivity
Traffic demand in Carver and Scott Counties is expected to continue to grow over the next several decades. Transportation system improvements such as New U.S. Highway 212 (currently under construction) and future improvements like the planned MN Highway 41 River Crossing will increase the connectivity between Carver and Scott Counties, and therefore new opportunities for residential and commercial development are expected to occur along the MN Highway 101 Corridor consistent with the long-range planning of the cities in the two counties. Operational and safety deficiencies experienced on existing MN Highway 101, combined with a lack of continuity and connectivity to the north, typically cause drivers to choose other routes.
Improve efficiency of the Hwy 101 Minnesota River Crossing
The New U.S. Highway 212 is being constructed with an interchange at MN Highway 101. From a transportation system standpoint, MN Highway 101 (between the Minnesota River and New U.S. Highway 212) is a logical and direct link that would serve travel demands to and from the heart of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area. While Old U.S. Highway 212 serves a regional transportation route today, its effectiveness is hampered by traffic congestion in the commercial districts of Eden Prairie and Chaska. MN Highway 101, between the communities of Shakopee and Chanhassen, will continue to serve as one of only a few options available for travelers seeking to cross the Minnesota River in the area. The study segment of MN Highway 101 (between the Minnesota River and New U.S. Highway 212) is an important link to serve existing and future transportation needs in the Southwestern metro area.