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The vehicle accident rate at a busy Hwy. 36 intersection in Oakdale is more than double Minnesota’s critical crash rate, according to a state report issued in advance of a $23 million reconstruction project.

The crash rate underscores the urgency in correcting the overburdened intersection at Hadley Avenue that each year sees thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians hurrying through vehicle traffic on the Gateway State Trail.

The crash statistics, contained in an environmental study from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, include three recent reports of cars hitting bicycles.

“A stoplighted intersection like this catches people by surprise,” said Washington County Commissioner Stan Karwoski, a former Oakdale mayor. Drivers accustomed to the removal of other stoplights on Hwy. 36 over the years sometimes approach the Hadley intersection and its traffic backups too fast, he said.

The high crash rate, Karwoski said, is “a combination of county growth and added cars and the Gateway Trail.”

The plan for the Hadley Avenue intersection, one of the largest Washington County road projects in years, includes an overpass over Hwy. 36, three connecting roundabouts and a new state trail alignment. The trail will run below the overpass at ground level but separated from traffic, ending the danger of people competing with cars.

The intersection, about a half-mile west of Interstate 694 on Oakdale’s north end, has seen increased traffic since Hwy. 36 was linked to the new St. Croix River bridge in August.

The state calculates its crash rate as the number of crashes per million among vehicles entering an intersection. According to the state report, the Hadley Avenue/Hwy. 36 intersection has a crash rate of 1.33, more than twice the state average of 0.66.

Recent three-year crash statistics rank the intersection 52nd among Minnesota’s 100 most crash-prone, the MnDOT report said.

About 30,700 vehicles go through the intersection daily, a number projected to grow to more than 44,000 in 2030. Traffic also has grown perceptibly on the corridor since the bridge opening as drivers change habits and shift to new routes.

The Hadley stoplight is one of only two remaining on Hwy. 36 west of the I-694 beltway; the other is farther west at the border of Oakdale and North St. Paul. A stoplight-free Hwy. 36 was envisioned in a 2014 state study that sees the corridor as becoming more of an expressway.

Costs for the Hadley/Hwy. 36 interchange project will be shared by Oakdale, Washington County, MnDOT and federal funding.

The project requires the grading of about 36 acres and the moving of about 205,000 cubic yards of soil. Grading will begin in the fall. Major construction that begins in the spring of 2019 is scheduled for substantial completion later in the year.

Project details are contained in a MnDOT environmental study released last week. For more information, go to www.co.washington.mn.us/2504/HadleyInterchange.

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037