Twin Cities Future Trunk High way Map?

Introducing the Twin Cities Metro Area Future Highway Map

This is one idea of what the state trunk highway system could look like in the future, perhaps 30 years out. I’ve pointedly avoided calling it a “fantasy” map, since it’s based mostly on official planning documents, not me drawing lines wherever I think a new freeway would be cool. I’ve also excluded the “I-894 Outer Beltway”, which would cost roughly $1 Zillion and thus is just a little to abstract and unlikely for here (Even though it actually got inserted in a recent funding request).

Twin Cities Future Trunk High way Map?

Twin Cities Future Trunk Highway Map?

Sources are:

  1. The often repeated long term goal of having the trunk highway system correspond to principal arterials and the recent jurisdictional alignment study.
  2. Specific local planning documents for locations of new principal arterials.
  3. A bit of my own fantasy and speculation. Notably all the assigned numbers are fantasy and speculation

The history of the trunk highway system is long and convoluted an would make a good article someday, but Mn/DOT and it’s predecessor, the Minnesota Department of Highways, have always felt they’re in the business of facilitating long distance and regional transportation. However due to political reasons they have in addition have a bunch of local, unimportant roads (like MN 270) they are obligated to maintain. Earlier there was an article about how MN 66 is returning to local control; this has been happening statewide at a very slow rate with routes from trunk highways to minor unimportant towns that Mn/DOT was forced to take over a 1949 pork barrel bill. With respect to the Twin Cities; it’s more the shift of long distance and regional traffic to the freeways  rendering the city streets more local in character. Here’s a 1979 map showing all the trunk highways on streets in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Twin Cities Map, 1978

Twin Cities Map, 1978, after substantial completion of the interstate system but before turnbacks really began.

Brooklyn Blvd is MN 152. Although US 65 was shifted off Lyndale Ave almost immediately, the street remains a trunk highway except for 50th to Lake St, and US 8 no longer follows Broadway St to Central Ave.  For some true Roadgeek Trivia, notice MN 278 and MN 280 as pork barrel routes. What would be MN 279 is Cedar Ave, and was marked as an extension of MN 36 instead.

Here are some specific notes on the future map:

South Metro

MN 13 is shown moved onto Cliff Road, and MN 149 and MN 952A (Robert Street’s secret number) are shown turned back.

The status of MN 50 reflects some of the conflicting goals involved. As a non-principal arterial, it is a turnback candidate (and has already been turned back in Lakeville). Yet there are studies for a new east-west principal arterial, one possibility being MN 50. Thus I’ve shown it as remaining a trunk highway and extended directly west. And Scott County is not coordinating with this study, so I’ve shown it ending at I-35.

I’ve shown the existing County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 42 and CSAH 21 principal arterials as trunk highways, and the existing MN 13, MN 21, and MN 282 as turned back. Scott County, newly flush with road funding from a local 0.5% sales tax and $20 motor vehicle excise tax, plans to significantly upscale CSAH 17 into a new principal arterial, and to even build interchanges at some of the major junctions.

CSAH 86 is proposed as a future principal arterial. It’s already used as a regional east-west route, and there’s a proposed interchange with I-35 (which would take some pressure off the CSAH 2 interchange as well as regional traffic out of Elko-New Market). CSAH 17 and 42, and MN 13, 21, and 282 are identified as potential transfers in the realignment study, and this is per the 2030 Scott County Comprehensive Plan.

I’ve included the planned freeway river crossing at MN 41. When and if it gets built it would likely cost around $1 Billion, so I’m not optimistic about seeing it in my lifetime, but I included since it’s still officially planned. As an idea toward how far it’s along, Scott County is going to build an interchange at the existing MN 41 that would likely need to be demolished if the new freeway crossing is ever built.

This is what I would consider a reluctant but appropriate use of road tolling: providing badly needed highway expansion that has zero chance of happening otherwise. But aside from Mn/Pass lanes, every toll facility proposed in Minnesota has either been sunk by over-ambition or denied municipal consent. (Remember the proposals to build the new Wakota Bridge or US 212 as a toll facilities? And I’m not aware the idea is even being discussed here.)

Despite MN 7, US 212, and the MN 41 river crossing being the only principal arterials in Carver County and MN 5 being identified previously as a turnback candidate, only MN 282 is shown on either the jursidictional alignment study or the Carver County 2030 Comprehensive Plan as being turned back. MN 5, MN 25, and the rest of MN 41 remain, except MN 25 is shown rerouted farther west and MN 5 is moved slightly to bypass Norwood Young America.

North Metro and Minneapolis

I’ve taken the liberty of delving into almost pure fantasy here with the idea of moving MN 95. The existing highway going through Stillwater and the downtown areas small riverfront towns isn’t appropriate as a regional through route, although MN 95 between CSAH 18 and I-94 was already moved back onto Manning Ave, and there was actually a 1960s plan to route it west of Stillwater.

1961 proposal for the Stillwater area showing a westerly bypass of MN 95.

1961 proposal for the Stillwater area showing a westerly bypass of MN 95 (along with a new freeway crossing near the current location and wide suburban style roads encircling downtown)

MN 96 is shown deleted both as being identified on Washington County’s comprehensive plan as a turnback candidate and not a principal arterial. The plan shows MN 244 being kept, but I’ve shown it deleted as it’s not a principal arterial, or even very important.

There also is a proposal to study a new river crossing between the Wakota Bridge and the Hastings Bridge. When I was at a public meeting discussing what to do about the JAR Bridge, I mentioned the possibility of reopening it to vehicle traffic. The consensus was that a local crossing would not be a bad idea, but it would be better to do a new study and build a new structure rather than send cars back over an old bridge that, eventually, partially fell down by itself. I’m not even sure this would be  trunk highway and there’s no specifics where it might go. I’ve put it in dashes.

John Dillinger fled here: the old JAR Bridge

John Dillinger fled here: the old JAR Bridge.

CSAH 12 is a principal arterial and is identified as misaligned, so as such I’ve shown it as a trunk highway. Part of it was a trunk highway, but was recently turned back in order to cheat the system and get funding for improvements from the turnback fund, that would be long in coming from other sources. CSAH 22 has been identified as a future principal arterial and trunk highway.

The Anoka County 2030 Transportation Plan identifies CSAH 22 as a new principal arterial under Mn/DOT jurisdiction, and moving part of MN 47 onto CSAH 9. University Ave and Central Ave south of I-694 are not principal arterials and are identified as misaligned, and as such I’ve shown them removed from the trunk highway system.

I’ve chosen to show the proposed new river crossing in dashes. Unlike the new Stillwater Bridge were there was cooperation between jurisdictions to facilitate regional mobility, in this case Hennepin county has refused to cooperate with Anoka County, and with the long term funding problems it’s hard to find the project even being talked about. The city of Ramsey is preserving right-of-way and has it in their 2030 Comprehensive Plan, but that is about it. The idea has been around for 50 years; originally it was suppose to be a bypass for what is now US 169 to get regional traffic out of downtown Anoka, but development has made that impracticable now, and it would now tie into a future Brockton Lane interchange on I-94 that local governments have been incessantly trying to get built for the last decade or so.

St Paul 

Yes, I know about state statute 161.122


The location, designation, marking and numbering of Legislative Route No. 125, marked Trunk Highway 51, as that route is established, located, designated, marked, and traveled southerly of University Avenue within the city of St. Paul, shall not be changed by the commissioner of transportation.

Nevertheless, statutes can be repealed, so I’ve shown MN 51 as shifted to Ayd Mill Road. Opening it up has shifted a lot of the thru traffic to it, and the proposed more direct connection to I-94 would shift even more.

MN 5 is shown moved from 7th Ave and Minnehaha Ave (which are not principal arterials) to Shepard Rd and Warner Road. Moving the trunk highway and building a better connection at I-35E would allow downscaling 7th to be a more neighborhood street as well as accommodating light rail.

Will all of this happen? Not likely, but it gives an idea of some of the potential changes that might happen in the decades ahead.

About Monte Castleman

Monte is a long time "roadgeek" who lives in Bloomington. He's interested in all aspects of roads and design, but particularly traffic signals, major bridges, and lighting. He works as an insurance adjuster, and likes to collect maps and traffic signals, travel, recreational bicycling, and visiting amusement parks.