Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Hwy 10 Access Planning Study

Ramsey, Anoka

Orange barrels on a highway

Summary of study


Hwy 10 is a principal arterial roadway providing a significant transportation connection from Minneapolis- St. Paul to the northwest suburbs and beyond. The 4-lane roadway (Anoka/Sherburne County line to the Rum River) carries average daily traffic volumes ranging from 33,500 to 61,000 vehicles per day.

Hwy 10 has been studied numerous times over the past decade, each time furthering the planning for conversion to a full freeway. Based upon traffic volumes and safety concerns, a freeway is the proper vision for this corridor. The corridor is commonly congested and has much higher than average crash and severity rates than comparable corridors. In addition, the corridor has five signalized intersections and numerous other access points (14.5 per mile) contributing to the degradation of the facility. Over the past 10 years, 13 people have died in crashes on the 7-mile corridor. Four of these fatalities were pedestrians, including three in the past 18 months.

Considering current overall state and federal funding levels, it will be difficult to achieve the vision of a freeway facility on this portion of Hwy 10 within the next 20 years. To reduce crashes and improve mobility issues, it is reasonable and responsible to implement lower cost, interim measures that incrementally improve safety and operations for all users of the Hwy 10 corridor.

The intent of this study was to identify high-benefit improvements that are fiscally responsible so that improvements can be funded, programmed, and implemented incrementally. The price paid for waiting for funding to construct expensive, comprehensive improvements will be continued congestion, numerous conflict points, and continued severe and fatal crashes.

Study approach

The Highway 10 Access Planning Study included a comprehensive analysis of specific problem areas within the study corridor. Less traditional improvement strategies were considered for these problem areas in order to balance the realities of funding limitations with the need to find solutions that provide significant safety and mobility benefits and could be incrementally constructed. A focus was placed on utilizing existing infrastructure where possible and developing right-sized, fundable-scale projects which are more eligible for regional funding opportunities.

Over 20 smaller projects were identified and vetted through a public and stakeholder outreach process. These projects included local roadway and trail connections, access changes, reduced conflict intersections and grade separations at primary intersections. Consistent with feedback received from elected officials, the public, business and property owners, the study recommended 18 to 22 right-sized, fundable-scale projects and prioritized them based on their ability to:

  • Provide immediate safety and/or mobility benefits
  • Provide critical local street connections
  • Gain public and local agency support and
  • Support future improvements

Measured success

The safety and mobility results are graphically shown in the charts below. The relative benefit and cost of each project group improvement are compared to the $300 million freeway vision of the corridor. The S-curves depict the relative benefit compared to the freeway vision of completing each of the project groups for both mobility and safety measures. These graphs show the greatest benefits are realized by removing traffic signals. The information derived from these graphs were used to identify priority projects in the implementation plan.

Graph of operation benefit-vs-project cost

graph of safety benefit-vs-project cost

Implementation priorities

The fiscally responsible implementation plan allows MnDOT, Anoka County and the Cities of Ramsey and Anoka to keep the momentum going from the study phase as they transition to funding and constructing recommended projects. The implementation plan assembled the projects and grouped them into five priority categories:

  • Current
  • Immediate
  • Short-Term
  • Mid-Term
  • Opportunity driven

Current priorities

All planning recognizes and supports previous decisions and funding allocations for the interchange at Hwy 10 and Armstrong Boulevard. This project, expected to begin construction in the fall of 2014, will remove the Armstrong Boulevard traffic signal, the first of the five traffic signals on Hwy 10. It also provides the second grade separated rail crossing in the corridor.

Immediate priorities

Immediate priorities include 6 projects that are ready to advance upon securing funding. These projects provide substantial safety and mobility benefits, have support of partnering agencies and many property owners. The combination of these projects results in the removal of the Fairoak Avenue traffic signal (the second of five traffic signals), removal of nearly 40 access points, and greater utilization of existing grade separation of Hwy 10. These six projects total slightly less than 30 million dollars including four million in Right of Way Acquisition Loan Fund payback. While the costs are roughly 10 percent of the previous freeway vision, these projects are expected to achieve over 40 percent of the safety benefit and 20 percent of the operational benefit that a freeway facility would provide.

Short-term priorities

There are three projects in the Short-Term category for varying reasons. All would provide an immediate impact but could use more time to mature. Additional planning is necessary to flush out the details of these projects. The combination of these projects results in the removal or partial removal of the Thurston Avenue traffic signal (the third of five traffic signals), removal of 12 access points, and a better connected local roadway system in the east side of our study corridor.

The three projects will cost in the range of 22 to 32 million dollars. Coupled with immediate priority projects, they would achieve roughly 60 to 65 percent of the safety benefit and 40 to 50 percent of the operational benefits at less than 20 percent of the cost of the freeway vision.

Mid-term priorities

There are two projects in the Mid-term category. These would remove the Ramsey Boulevard and Sunfish Lake Boulevard traffic signals (the fourth and fifth traffic signals on the Hwy 10 corridor). Both locations need additional project scoping and review before a final foot print is known but this study has identified less costly and incremental alternatives to previous single-point interchange recommendations. Removal or partial removal of these remaining signals can be expected to cost 23 to 45 million dollars.

Coupled with immediate and short-term priorities, 11 projects total, these projects would accomplish nearly 90 percent of the safety and operation benefits for a third or less of the cost of the freeway.

Opportunity driven priorities

Nine projects were identified for the long-term preservation of safety and mobility of the Hwy 10 corridor. There isn’t necessarily an immediate need for the improvements but it is recognized that some access conditions are not sustainable. These improvements would include the removal of nearly 25 access points, provide up to two additional grade separated crossings of the railroad, continue to develop the local street system in developing areas, and prevent future signalization on Hwy 10 in the study area. These opportunity driven priorities are expected to cost 18 to 44 million dollars.

Next steps

The Hwy 10 Access Planning Study Recommendations are broadly supported by all partnering agencies, including the Cities of Anoka and Ramsey, Anoka County, MnDOT, and the Metropolitan Council. All project partners listed above have provided written letters of support or have passed resolutions endorsing the study recommendations.

Project partners must continue to work together to further plan, obtain funding, design, and implement the recommended improvements. All partners have an active role in implementing these improvements. This more focused, realistic, innovative, and flexible strategy results in the vast majority of the benefits at a fraction of the cost of the previous vision. It includes 18 to 22 projects that range in cost from several hundred thousand up to 26 million dollars. Half of the projects are estimated at five million dollars or less.

This strategy is consistent with the Met Council Transportation Policy Plan, MnDOT’s Minnesota State Highway Investment Plan (MnSHIP) and MnDOT’s Enhancing Financial Effectiveness (EFE) efforts providing agency partners with more flexibility to match projects with available funding and make cost effective choices. All competitive funding sources should be considered. Agencies should also update their comprehensive and transportation plans to include these findings. Partners should also work with MnDOT to include the corridor in the next update of the Congestion Management and Safety Plan (CMSP).

If you'd like to read the Hwy 10 access study report (PDF, 53.71, 178 pages) please contact us.