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Traffic backups near Hayden Lake Road and Highway 169 have cars at a standstill and drivers testing the limits of their patience.A $14 million reconstruction project is underway and a new phase began Monday, limiting traffic to one lane in both directions on Highway 169 from the Mississippi River to Highway 610. The highway typically sees 45,000 trips a day, which means this new phase of construction will delay driving throughout the region.“We're telling people expect delays, expect inconveniences, and plan ahead,” said Champlin’s city engineer, Tim Hanson.MnDOT will build two new bridges, soften a dangerously sharp curve and reconstruct all lanes of traffic through the area. At the same time, a separate project has crews tearing up old concrete south of Hayden Lake Road to make way for fresh pavement on 169. MN-DOT actually moved the resurfacing project up a few years to get all the pain over at once.“We’re going to be done now, with highway reconstruction work in town, I would think, for a long time,” said Hanson.
“And it's just getting through 2018 that's going to be the struggle.”Megan Joerger feels the struggle in full force. She lives near the intersection of 169 and Dayton Road and says traffic has become the focus of her life.“It's terrible,” she said, “we literally had to wait two hours to leave our house today in order to get out on time. And now tonight, we have to plan our whole - our whole day is based on the traffic right now.”Meanwhile, businesses in the area feel the pinch too. Leslie Williams works at a gas station in the heart of the construction and thinks traffic has kept people away.“We've lost quite a bit of business because of it,” said Williams.“A lot of our regulars aren't stopping in, just due to it's taking them a lot longer or they're late for their jobs.”But Williams hopes the pain now pays off later. She looks forward to a safer, smother commute on the horizon.“I think it'll make it better,” she said.“I think it's gonna hopefully make everything flow better, but again, you look at the bad and realize it's better in the end.”Head-to-head traffic will continue throughout the summer and is expected to wrap up sometime in September. When the work is done, there will be a new pedestrian underpass and trails, new park space, and a revived Mill Pond, stocked for fishing.“It's clearly going to be a community showpiece and a diamond for the neighborhood and even for the region,” said Hanson.“Give us five months of patience and we'll get through this.”The city of Champlin has up-to-date construction reports here.Jennifer Anderson firstname.lastname@example.org