Highway 169 Elk River CM/GC Project

Elk River, Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will convert Highway 169 to a freeway, removing all five stop lights from the Mississippi River north through Elk River. The Highway 169 corridor is a critical north-south arterial route in central Minnesota. This route connects Minnesota’s central lakes region and the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area with the growing trade centers of Elk River, Zimmerman and Princeton. Currently, the signalized intersections along this stretch of the highway are over capacity, resulting in significant delays and safety issues on Highway 169 and adjacent streets. 

This $130 million Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) project involves reconstructing a key segment of Highway 169, between Hwy 101/Hwy 10 and Hwy 197th Avenue, in Elk River, Minnesota. The project includes improvements to the TH 169/TH 10 system interchange and converting four at-grade traffic signals into interchanges. Michael Baker International was responsible for the final roadway design for the 197th Avenue interchange, final bridge design of the reconstructed northbound TH 169 bridge over TH 10 and coordinating the final bridge design of four other bridges completed by others.

Michael Baker worked in collaboration with Ames Construction and MnDOT to develop the roadway and bridge staging alternatives. The roadway and bridge designs were completed utilizing Bentley OpenRoads Designer (ORD) and OpenBridge Modeler (OBM) to produce 3D models. The digital models allowed for automated clash detection of utility conflicts leading to improved mitigation during design. This was MnDOT’s first project using the digital delivery method.

The bridge design included a two-span bridge with MnDOT 35MH pre-stressed beams and integral abutments to replace the existing northbound TH 169 over TH 10. The spans were 93.5-feet-long with an overall bridge width of 50 feet. All reinforcement was modeled using ProStructures. This software also provided bar numbering, bar lists and quantities.


“The 3D model allows us to see the design in a whole new light. We are able see design changes on the fly and that provides the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) with greater flexibility in the decision-making process.” 

Darren Nelson
Project Manager, MnDOT Highway 169 Redefine – Elk River 

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