No day at the Beach

Several area residents talk with Joy Miciano, right, a MnDOT public involvement specialist on the St. Croix Crossing project, prior to a meeting Monday evening at Oak Park Heights City Hall about the Beach Road portion of the project. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

Several area residents talk with Joy Miciano, right, a MnDOT public involvement specialist on the St. Croix Crossing project, prior to a meeting Monday evening at Oak Park Heights City Hall about the Beach Road portion of the project. (Gazette staff photo by Erik Sandin)

OAK PARK HEIGHTS — The state plans to close the Beach Road bridge over Minnesota 36 some time late next week, with demolition of the old span and construction of a new bridge slated for early fall.

When finished late this year, the new Beach Road span will not offer ramp access to Minnesota 95 or MN 36, according to St. Croix Crossing Project Director Jon Chiglo.
“Your (current) traffic patterns from 36 to 95 will no longer exist,” he told residents attending a MnDOT project update Monday evening at Oak Park Heights City Hall.

In a separate construction-related matter, Chiglo said crews excavating areas east of the Osgood Avenue-MN 36 intersection found soil contaminated with fly ash and other materials and are currently removing the affected soil.

Chiglo told residents at the meeting that MnDOT plans to close the current Beach Road bridge around Aug. 1, weather permitting. He added that the eastbound MN 36 ramp to Beach Road will also close permanently.

“Those ramps will be obliterated,” Chiglo said, adding that new MN 36 ramps expected to be finished in September “will connect directly to highway 95.”

“You will not have ramps from 95 to Beach Road,” he stressed.

Besides closing the Beach Road bridge, Chiglo said MnDOT will close MN 95 one weekend sometime in August to remove a flyover ramp from MN 95 to MN 36. He added that closure would be from a Friday night through Sunday.

Chiglo said MnDOT plans to open the MN 36 south frontage road extension just east of the MN 36-Osgood Avenue intersection from Club Tara to Stagecoach Trail North in August to alleviate traffic issues from the Beach Road bridge closure.

Chiglo said the Beach Road bridge is scheduled for demolition in October and the new span is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

“It’s not a large bridge to construct. There’s no pile driving,” he said.

Chiglo also advised residents that major excavation and grading begins soon. He said the work would be done in two 10-hour shifts Monday through Saturday, with MnDOT working with contractors to minimize noise from the work.

“Most of the noise will come from engine noise,” he said. “We will not disconnect (equipment) back-up alarms, but we will minimize those back-ups. They will be minimized, but disconnecting them (alarms) is not an option.”

Chiglo said safety is a top project priority, adding that OSHA officials conduct weekly reviews of project safety issues and hazards.

“I want to make it clear, safety is our concern,” he said. “We want to be proactive. It’s not just words, it’s actions. We’re very serious about safety.”

When asked by Stillwater City Councilman Doug Menikheim if any “surprises” had been found during construction, Chiglo said crews encountered contaminated soil in some Oak Park Heights neighborhoods.

“We have encountered more (soil) contamination in the old neighborhoods. There’s fly ash and slag outside of the cap,” he said. He added crews also uncovered what appeared to be an old streetcar line trestle.

Chiglo said crews are removing the contaminated soil and he expects the project to stay on schedule if recent dry weather continues.

“The big picture, the project is going well. I think we are on schedule,” he said.

Contact Erik Sandin at erik.sandin@ecm-inc.com

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