Wooddale bridge construction to continue

Construction not expected to affect commute to school

Signs+and+cones+distract+drivers+on+Wooddale+Bridge.+The+bridge+construction+causes+traffic+buildup+and+confusion+with+many+new+signs+and+driving+precautions.+
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Wooddale bridge construction to continue

Signs and cones distract drivers on Wooddale Bridge. The bridge construction causes traffic buildup and confusion with many new signs and driving precautions.

Signs and cones distract drivers on Wooddale Bridge. The bridge construction causes traffic buildup and confusion with many new signs and driving precautions.

Claire Bargman

Signs and cones distract drivers on Wooddale Bridge. The bridge construction causes traffic buildup and confusion with many new signs and driving precautions.

Claire Bargman

Claire Bargman

Signs and cones distract drivers on Wooddale Bridge. The bridge construction causes traffic buildup and confusion with many new signs and driving precautions.

Maggie Klaers

According to Jack Sullivan, senior engineering project manager for the Wooddale bridge construction, the city of St. Louis Park is working to rebuild the bridge crossing over Highway 7 to make it safer for drivers.

“The bridge was originally built in 2008,” Sullivan said. “It’s being rebuilt now to enhance some safety features, such as sightlines for users of the bridge, namely the people coming off the ramps, as well as widening the bridge deck to gain additional sidewalks and bike lanes across the bridge deck. We expect the project will be completed in November.”

Sullivan said the original design of the bridge included some flaws that proved unsafe, especially for pedestrians and bikers.

“We’ve heard from a lot of people that the Wooddale bridge has been a (difficult) location in the community with the sightlines as challenging as they are,” Sullivan said. “With bikers and pedestrians, it felt less than ideal coming across the bridge, so we really hope these enhancements will improve the safety for all uses of the bridge.”

Sullivan said the bridge will only fully close at night to avoid inconveniences for drivers.

“There won’t be any bridge closures during the day, but there will be some overnight closures that happen between 10 p.m. and five  a.m. for various tasks related to setting the beams and some other work to put the bridge back together,” Sullivan said.

According to Sullivan, the city plans on alternating which ramps will be open or closed in an effort to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

“Right now, the ramps on the East side of Wooddale are closed but the West side is open, we’ll flip flop that in the middle of October and we’ll keep a couple of ramps open,” Sullivan said.

According to Sullivan, the bridge construction should have minimal to no effect on how Park students get to school.

“We don’t believe the construction will affect students’ commute to school. We’ve been working with the bus garage and the school district to make sure that we keep Wooddale open to traffic and that we keep at least two of the ramps open,” Sullivan said. “So we anticipate with the detours we have set up and the operations we have keeping the Wooddale deck open, that it should have minimal effect on the commute of high school students.”

Junior Patrick Djerf says the construction has made the bike ride from his house to the high school challenging.

“For cross country summer practices, I bike that route every day, there and back, and the congestion in that area from the construction can make it take longer to get to practice. I normally bike on the sidewalk, but the sidewalk is closed so I have to bike on the road between two barricades,” Djerf said.

According to Sullivan, more work on the bridge is expected in 2019 to prepare for the future Southwest light rail line.

“I’ve been calling this project ‘phase one’ because we expect that the Southwest LRT will start construction along the corridor in 2019,” Sullivan said. “With that work, they will be putting traffic signals at the top of the ramps at the intersections there and will be doing some additional work restriping the bridge deck and setting up for the future light rail stations that will be there.”

 

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