Highway 101 update now open | Chanhassen News
After years of preparation, Highway 101 reopened on October 15, to the delight of motorists, government officials and businesses.
Construction of the highway, between County Road 61 and Pioneer Trail, began in March 2020, with the highway closed to through traffic in May 2020.
Some of the final constructions of the multi-phase improvement project included curb and gutter placement, paving, pavement marking, sign placement, as well as final grading and seeding.
The highway, which was previously two-lane, has moved to four lanes. Improvements to Highway 101 were made to address safety and operational concerns, according to Charlie Howley, director of public works and municipal engineer for the town of Chanhassen.
Thanks to the project, sightlines and access control to intersecting streets have been improved. The sharp bends in the highway have been removed and the shoulders have been incorporated. Now that there are four lanes, it’s easier to move around, Howley said.
“It’s a minor artery, so it’s meant to carry a fair amount of traffic,” Howley said.
Highway 101 is an artery. It allows traffic from Shakopee and other parts of Scott County to more efficient access to Highway 212.
According to Steve Lillehaug, Shakopee’s public works manager and municipal engineer, Highway 101 connects all of Scott County with Carver and Hennepin counties. About 20,000 vehicles use this connection per day, he said.
The detour over the past two years hasn’t been ideal, “but everyone survived it so it’s a great connection and a great openness,” Lillehaug said.
While Lillehaug noted that Highway 101 is outside his jurisdiction, he has lived in Chanhassen for 20 years and has certainly noticed the highway’s safety issues. It was a windy road down the hill with limited sight lines, he said.
“It will be great for communities in the region to improve safety in this corridor,” said Lillehaug. “As far as aesthetics go, it looks great up there… kudos to our neighbors to the north. “
Even though Highway 101 will be reopened, that doesn’t mean the project is finished. In early spring 2022, once the grass is established, new trees will be planted in the cliff area to reforest the area, Howley said.
Kelly Lorenz, general manager of The Mustard Seed Landscaping and Garden Center in Chanhassen for over 10 years, remembers hearing the screeching of tires in the steep curve of Highway 101 where the store is located. There would be accidents and cars would crash into their fence.
“We were hearing tire screeching quite often throughout the day, people not realizing it, you know the 15mph sign was pretty accurate,” Lorenz said.
When Highway 101 closed, Lorenz heard about people’s frustration as they entered the garden center. Customers called to ask how to get to the center. One phrase that was common to hear was “wow, it’s super hard to get here,” she said.
Fortunately, the frustration didn’t have a big impact on the garden center’s sales. In the spring, people are hungry for flowers and vegetables, so their spring sales were still strong, Lorenz said.
Lorenz is looking forward to the motorway reopening so that there is easier access to the garden center and people are less confused.
“Just this freedom to move around and get some people back to their normal routes and their driving routines on this road,” Lorenz said. “It will be a little more convenient for them to stop.”
Amid improvements to Highway 101, the garden center “caught the construction bug,” Lorenz said with a laugh. The center has done paving work in its yard so that the lanes through the shopping area are smoother and more pleasant, she said.
According to Howley, the project is “something we should celebrate… it’s a big deal.”
One important thing to know is that the Highway 101 improvement project also includes multi-use trails along the corridor. There are connections between Flying Cloud Drive and the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail, which also connects downtown Chanhassen, Howley said.
“It’s a good connection for the trail system,” Howley said.
The project totaled $ 29 million, with Chanhassen contributing around $ 3 million. The majority of the costs were covered by Carver County using various research sources, including return funds from MnDOT. Highway 101 was once a national highway, but has been “returned” to the county, according to earlier reports.
An inauguration ceremony is scheduled for the end of October.