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The Minnesota Society of Professional Engineers (MnSPE) awarded the SEH/Kimley-Horn team a ‘Seven Wonders of Engineering’ award for their preliminary design work on the Trunk Highway 36 (TH 36)/Rice Street Interchange project.
The MnSPE Seven Wonders award recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of engineering. Finalists are judged based on a number of technical and industry-related factors including: engineering methods, utilization of system and skills, project complexity, the extent the project advances the engineering profession, the significance of the entry to society, and the extent to which the project meets the needs of the market, client, or owner. Among 21 finalists statewide, the SEH/Kimley-Horn team ranked in the top seven to receive awards.
The TH 36/Rice Street interchange was congested and characterized by tightly spaced intersections and a deteriorating bridge that no longer met design standards. Sparked by the planned expansion of the St. Jude Medical campus with the addition of 600 jobs in close proximity to the interchange, Ramsey County and project partners sought to reconstruct the interchange and nearly a mile of Rice Street. Due to the proximity of major east-west crossroads close to the interchange, particularly County Road B to the south, traditional interchange designs could not achieve acceptable operations without restricting access.
During the concept development phase, the SEH/Kimley-Horn team produced dozens of creative sketch-level concepts; however, many of them severed local connections, provided only marginal improvements upon existing operations, or came with unreasonably high price tags. The design team was challenged to think outside the box and, in doing so, developed a new type of interchange—an offset single point diamond interchange. The new interchange type included three bridges over TH 36 and a single ramp intersection, which increased intersection spacing and improved traffic flow.
The project included the reconstruction and widening of nearly a mile of Rice Street, while maintaining access to area businesses, included extensive interaction with area residents and businesses, and established an aesthetic standard for the predominantly commercial corridor. Benefits to the public also included a bicycle-friendly design and improved pedestrian safety and amenities.
Throughout the expedited 18-month design development process, the team maintained close coordination with project partners Ramsey County, MnDOT, and the Cities of Roseville, Little Canada, and Maplewood. Construction was completed ahead of schedule and within budget. Given that the project was held up for nearly a month during the state shutdown, completion of construction ahead of schedule is quite an accomplishment.