This report details notes from my 2006 trip to my aunt's cabin near Osakis, MN, from August 21-23, 2006.
Meaghan and I took our annual trip up to my aunt's cabin near Osakis. Of
course, me being me, we never take the direct route...
- Started by following the Great River Road from downtown Minneapolis north through Dayton. Discovered the hard way that there's a segment of the old West River Rd through Brooklyn Park between 73rd Ave N and Brookdale Dr that has been permanently cut off, requiring use of MN 252 instead for that half mile.
- Hennepin CSAH 12 from US 169 northwest to the Crow River is a quaint drive, though needs some pavement work.
- Cut over on Wright CSAH 36 to I-94. Work has started on some sort of bypass road for Wright CSAH 36 at MN 101, as part of the interchange construction.
- At the MnROAD project on I-94, westbound traffic was using the test roadbed.
- The new CSAH 18 interchange in Monticello looked close to opening, with pavement completed and signals installed. Looking at the MnDOT website, there was a press release saying that the interchange opened this past Thursday (8/31). The new exit number is Exit 194.
- Another relatively new interchange on I-94 opened a year or so ago between St Cloud and Clearwater. Exit 173 is "Opportunity Drive".
- Noticed several traffic signals in St Cloud that uses a 4-lens signal for through and left turns. After watching one in observation, I saw that they are LED lights with both the green and yellow arrows in the bottom lens.
- Most of the bridge girders are in place for the new Mississippi River bridge at Sauk Rapids. A few girders have yet to be set on the Sauk Rapids side of the river. The new bridge will be 4 lanes wide and will tie into 9th Ave N in St Cloud and CSAH 3/2nd St N in Sauk Rapids. Based on how high the Sauk Rapids approach appears to be, the Benton Dr/2nd St N intersection will have to be raised about 8-10 feet from its current elevation.
- Benton Dr (Benton CSAH 33) looks like it was recently widened to 5-lanes undivided from 2nd St N up to MN 15.
- A segment of Morrison CSAH 52, which follows the Mississippi River south of Little Falls, looks to have been paved recently. I know about 5 years ago there was a 4-5 mile segment that was still gravel.
- MN 27 is a 3-lane (2-lane + Center LTL) section through Little Falls. Some of it could stand to become a 5-lane section.
- Checked out the new freeway section of MN 371, between US 10 and Morrison CSAH 48, completion of which completed a 4-lane link from Little Falls to Brainerd. MnDOT used large-size (but still square) reassurance shields along this segment.
- Up in Pequot Lakes, MnDOT has FINALLY added protected-permitted signals on MN 371 at CSAH 11. For decades, this had been a simple 2-phase signal and it got really difficult to make a left turn from 371.
- US 10 is still a 2-lane street through Staples. This will change starting next year when the Staples reconstruction project begins. The project will create a 4-lane urban divided section on US 10 through Staples and eliminate one of three remaining 4-lane gaps on US 10 through the state (the other two are at Wadena and between US 61 and Prescott, WI).
- In Alexandria, there used to be an old white-square JCT MN 29 shield on the CSAH 82 approach to the Broadway/3rd St intersection. With the reconstruction project on MN 27/MN 29/3rd St, the old shield is now gone.
Enjoyed our time up at the cabin...it's nice to be able to get away for a couple days. Scored a few maps strolling through the antique stores in Alexandria.
- Heading back, I decided to bring Meaghan to Duluth as well for photo opportunity.
- In Long Prairie, the sole traffic light on US 71 in town isn't at MN 287 or even at MN 27 East. Instead, it's at Todd CSAH 38.
- MN 27 is in dire need of pavement improvement not only between Osakis and US 71, but also between Long Prairie and Little Falls.
- With the completion of the MN 371 freeway north of Little Falls, the Great River Road now follows CR 213 on the west side of the river between MN 27 and MN 115.
- Some of the Great River Road turns are not clearly signed in Brainerd. This was not helped any by some road construction in Brainerd that had a couple streets shut down.
- Much of the Great River Road in Aitkin County has the apt street name of "Great River Rd".
- Another Great River Road distinction in Aitkin County....there are three significant segments where the road is gravel and not paved. The three unpaved segments are along CSAH 21 from CSAH 1 to US 169, along CSAH 10 from US 169 to Palisade, and also along CSAH 10 from CSAH 18 (about 12 miles northeast of Palisade) to about 8 miles south of MN 200. I believe these are the only remaining unpaved segments of the GRR in Minnesota.
- As Meaghan astutely questioned, "why is a major national road NOT PAVED???" I guess that's a good question to ask if you consider the GRR a "national road". Even though they're unpaved, they offer some good views of the river.
- What used to be an old one-lane bridge on MN 200 over the river at Jacobson has since been replaced by a standard concrete span.
- Took US 2 from MN 65 east to MN 33. A fair bit of traffic for a road that is completely out in the boonies...there were several segments where there was NOTHING along the road but trees and bogs. Besides the 60 MPH rural speed limit, MnDOT has been generous with passing lanes plus a few hill climbing lanes. I counted four sets of passing lanes, so basically averaging one passing lane every 10 miles. There was also a 3-lane segment through Floodwood and the bridge over the St Louis River looked fairly new.
- Took MN 33 from US 2 into Cloquet. North of Cloquet is a 4-lane, 65 MPH divided highway. The northern part of Cloquet becomes a 5-lane undivided 40 MPH road, which is still improvement over the old 2-lane road that it previously was.
- Headed into Duluth at this point. Not much new to add from my earlier Duluth report, except that we stopped at the Enger Tower to take some very excellent views of Duluth, plus stopped downtown to get some downtown photos.
Nothing really of note heading home to Minneapolis.
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