Ramsey County has been honored with the Minnesota County Engineers Association’s (MCEA) prestigious 2020 Project of the Year Award for the I-694/Rice Street Interchange Project, located in the cities of Shoreview and Vadnais Heights, Minnesota.
The County teamed with SEH and general contractor Redstone Construction, LLC to address existing safety and operational issues along Rice Street and at the interchange ramp terminal intersections.
The MCEA’s Project of the Year Award recognizes a noteworthy project involving the Minnesota County Highway/Public Works Department in specific areas relative to unique/innovative design, environmental considerations, public involvement, accomplishments under adverse conditions and/or construction management and safety.
We’re thrilled that Ramsey County received the MCEA’s Project of the Year Award, which recognizes the County’s investments in the community and larger region. The extensive engagement with multiple municipalities and the public led to consensus on this innovative design to enhance access, safety and mobility for all users.
The goal of the multi-year, nearly $23 million I-694/Rice Street Interchange Project was to reconstruct the existing interchange to support the redevelopment of a 12-acre Ramsey County Public Works site in the southwest quadrant of the interchange, as well as address congestion issues on the regional freeway system. Primary consultant SEH partnered with multiple municipalities – from concept through construction – to vet 17 alternatives, complete environmental reviews and remediation plans, develop stormwater management solutions and engage the public to reach consensus and municipal consent.
The ultimate design configuration consists of an offset single-point interchange and three roundabouts, dramatically improving efficiency and safety for all users and modes of travel.
For years, Ramsey County has identified the interchange at Rice Street (also known as CSAH 49) and I-694 as a top priority for reconstruction. Not only is I-694 an important commuter and regional interstate trucking route, but Rice Street is one of only a few north-south arterial corridors in the County – making it a key connection to the interstate system.
The stretch of I-694 including the Rice Street interchange previously had only two lanes in each direction, causing a bottleneck that was congested for an average of seven hours per day. With the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT) construction of a third general-purpose lane in each direction in 2017, the County, with support from the cities of Shoreview, Little Canada and Vadnais Heights, advanced plans to reconstruct the Rice Street/I-694 interchange with construction beginning in 2019.
This project aimed to address existing safety and operational issues along Rice Street and at the interchange ramp terminal intersections. Detailed traffic studies concluded that, by 2040, traffic operations at the interchange intersections would consistently fail. The Rice Street Corridor was also identified as a notable barrier and safety concern for people walking, biking and using transit in the MnDOT I-694 Non-Motorized Crossing Study.
The SEH team provided concept development, preliminary design, final design, construction administration and stakeholder engagement. Over 60 SEH staff members contributed to this award-winning project. Among those contributing hundreds of hours to the project are Lead Design Engineer Scott Hotchkin, PE** and Lead Project Engineer Graham Johnson, PE***, PTOE. Together, they addressed the interchange issues and improved transportation efficiency and safety for multimodal and vulnerable users who navigate through the interchange along Rice Street. Additionally, the work will help increase the economic development potential of currently underutilized property located within the interchange.