Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Highway 8 Corridor Study

In Wyoming, Chisago City

Orange barrels on a highway

Background

The study of the Greenway-to-Karmel segment of the Hwy 8 corridor, is a continuation of previous phases of work to identify ways to improve the capacity and safety of the entire length of the Hwy 8 corridor between Forest Lake and Taylors Falls. In September 2002 MnDOT worked with the Hwy 8 communities along the 23-mile section of Hwy 8 to complete the Hwy 8 Scoping Document. As a result of the transportation analysis and community input provided during the 2002 study the Greenway-to-Karmel segment of the corridor was identified as requiring additional capacity. However, there are currently no construction projects identified or funded to meet these requirements.

Study Process

This phase of the Hwy 8 study included four main steps, as described below:

Step 1:  Project Initiation
Planning for improvements on Hwy 8 has occurred over time. During this study, a range of roadway concepts were considered for the segment of Hwy 8 between Greenway Avenue North and Karmel Avenue. Project initiation included the following tasks:

  • Development of Public Involvement Plan
  • Creation of a Technical Advisory Committee
  • Development of a Purpose and Need Statement
  • Review of Previous Planning Work in the Corridor
  • Review of Existing  and Future Planned Corridor Conditions
  • Development of Various Roadway Concepts to Evaluate

Step 2:  Evaluation of Alternatives
The Hwy 8 study involved a two-tier screening process, including public involvement. A first-tier screening process was used to identify broader transportation impacts and eliminate concepts that would not meet the purpose and need. Following first-tier screening, a more detailed evaluation was completed for the remaining concept:  a four-lane divided roadway with a grassy median. This concept was carried forward for further consideration during the second-tier screening process. A number of alternatives were developed under this concept that would address alignment and access.

Tier 1 Screening Process
A range of roadway cross-section alternatives were considered for Hwy 8 between Greenway Avenue North and Karmel Avenue, which were evaluated against broad criteria, including existing and future capacity, consistency with MnDOT’s access management guidelines, consistency with MnDOT’s goal for Interregional Corridors, and risk of head-on collisions along a higher speed (55 mph) rural highway. The cross-section concepts are listed below, followed by the results of the first-tier screening.

  • Existing Two-Lane Roadway Concept
  • Three-Lane Roadway Concept
  • Five-Lane Roadway Concept
  • Four-Lane Divided Roadway with Continuous Concrete Median Concept
  • Four-Lane Divided Roadway with Wide Grassy Median Concept

The objective of Tier 1 was to narrow the range of alternatives to advance to the more detailed Tier 2 evaluation. The results of the first-tier screening recommended that a four-lane divided roadway concept with a wide grassy median should advance to the second-tier screening because it met the evaluation criteria and was consistent with the purpose and need of the project.

Tier 2 Screening Process
Following first-tier screening, a more detailed evaluation was conducted for the remaining concept carried forward for further consideration:  a 4-lane divided roadway with a grassy median. Public open houses were held in June 2009 to review the findings and recommendations from Tier 1 and to present the four alternatives developed under the 4-lane divided roadway concepts. These four alternatives, listed below, were evaluated against more detailed criteria including potential impacts to the social, natural, and built environment and included considerations of public preferences and cost.

4-Lane Divided Roadway Alternatives Under Consideration

  • South Alignment (“Alternative 3”)

The existing roadway alignment would be used for westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic lanes would be built to the south. Therefore, most impacts would occur to the south of the existing roadway. One option would include an intersection at Hazel Avenue. A second option would move this intersection to Hamlet Avenue.

  • North Alignment (“Alternative 4”)

The existing roadway alignment would be used for eastbound traffic. Westbound traffic lanes would be built to the north. Therefore, most impacts would occur to the north of the existing roadway. The option of having the intersection at Hazel Avenue or Hamlet Avenue could also apply to this alternative, as well.

  • Mixed Alignment (“Alternative 5”)

The new roadway would be built on an alignment that shifts according to existing conditions, attempting to avoid property impacts. The option of having the intersection at Hazel Avenue or Hamlet Avenue could also apply to this alternative.

This sub-alternative to Alternative 5 adds a frontage road between Pioneer Trail and 270th Street on the south side by using the existing roadway as a frontage road. The new four-lane divided roadway would be built completely to the north of the existing roadway for nearly two miles.

The objective of the Tier 2 was to inform the decision-making process for reducing the number of alternatives under consideration down to the recommended alternative to advance through the environmental review process. Under several of the evaluation criteria, the analysis resulted in similar potential impacts among alternatives. Alternative 5, however, had the fewest residential displacements.

Step 3:  Recommendation of Alternative to Advance
In Fall 2012, TAC members, along with the councils of the City of Wyoming and Chisago City, reached a consensus on recommending the “Alternative 5” concept. Both cities concurred that designating a primary alternative would be preferred so it could be adopted into their respective comprehensive plans and the cities could endorse it. The project footprint of “Alternative 5” will be used to guide future development along the corridor.

Step 4:  Preparation of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet
The study includes the preparation of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) that evaluates Alternative 5. The EAW, along with a series of environmental studies and technical memoranda was completed as part of the overall study. The studies serve as a guide for the future expansion of Hwy 8 from Greenway Avenue North to Karmel Avenue. This EAW identifies the environmental resources and existing conditions surrounding the Hwy 8 Greenway-to-Karmel segment of Hwy 8; provides background data for consideration of the proposed project alternative to be evaluated during the future environmental review phase of the project once funding for project construction has been identified; and identifies potential social, economic and environmental impacts of the proposed project footprint.