Rush-hour congestion at the intersection of Highway 5 and County Road 4 is bad and getting worse, adding time and aggravation to commutes.
But, Eden Prairie city officials are leaning toward a long-range push for help.
It won’t be easy.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Hennepin County have jurisdiction over the roadways, and improvements would be expensive – requiring funds from the state Legislature and perhaps even the federal government.
Businesses crowd the intersection, there’s a high-voltage transmission line alongside Highway 5, nearby city streets and their access to Highway 5 might be affected by improvements, and any project would take years to plan and implement.
Also, improvements currently are not a part of county or state long-range road construction plans, prompting the City of Eden Prairie to sound the alarm.
Nevertheless, in a workshop on March 7, city council members informally authorized staff to start laying the groundwork: beginning steps that might lead to a request to the 2024 Minnesota Legislature of $5 million to $10 million for engineering and environmental work to identify a specific fix to the intersection.
“I think we’ve known it’s inevitable,” Mayor Ron Case said about the need to improve the 5/4 intersection. “Let’s take that next step.”
‘D’ headed to ‘F’
On an A-through-F scale, the intersection’s level of service currently rates a “D” at peak traffic times: commuter rush hours as well as when students at nearby Eden Prairie High School are heading to or leaving school.
“D” is acceptable, says Public Works Director Robert Ellis. However, according to forecasts, the intersection will deteriorate to “F” by 2040, as development continues in Chanhassen, Victoria, and other cities west of Eden Prairie. (Eden Prairie has its own nearby development, including construction of a 239-unit apartment complex along County Road 4, two blocks south of Highway 5.)
That sounds far off, but officials say it’s a long road to planning and fixing the intersection. “This will probably be a 10-year effort, if I had to guess,” said Ellis.
There were 151 crashes at that intersection from 2013 through 2022, according to city staff. None of them were fatalities or involved life-threatening injuries, and none involved pedestrians trying to cross the busy intersection. Most recorded incidents were rear-end collisions. Of the 151 crashes, 101 of them occurred in the last five years.
Ultimately, according to city staff, it might take a project costing $100 million or more to fix the intersection. The goal would be to have all of that come from levels of government other than the city, said Ellis.
The city, county, and state have already brainstormed about 18 different ideas for improvement, reduced to about four that seem workable. A bridge that would carry Highway 5 over County Road 4 might be one of the solutions, but there’s no room for a cloverleaf or extended interchange.
Some purchases of land where businesses exist would likely be necessary, officials say.
Comments aren’t allowed on our site, but we do offer several ways to provide feedback, and have your voice heard. If you believe the story has an error, or would like to get in touch with the author, please contact us. If you would like to respond directly to this article, we welcome and encourage Letters To the Editor. You can find details on how to submit a letter on our contact page.