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New bridge nearly ready

Traffic will not be allowed on the new 195th Street bridge until some striping and boulevard work is finished.

Give it a week or so, and getting from one side of Farmington to the other will be a whole lot easier.

That's because the new 195th Street extension, which includes a bridge over the railroad tracks, is nearly complete -- and two months ahead of schedule.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for this week, but Farmington city engineer Kevin Schorzman said drivers will have to wait just a few more days before the new east-west corridor is open to the public. The striping needs to be finished and there is some boulevard work that is still being completed. Once the final inspections are done, though, the road will be opened to the public.

"It's still way ahead of schedule," Schorzman said. "It was supposed to be done in November."

The original completion date was Nov. 30. Schorzman attributes the early completion to the fact the contractor, Friedges, and the bridge subcontractors were able to get further along on the project last year, and this summer's mild weather allowed them to keep going with very few rain delays.

"No rain is not necessarily beneficial for lawns or farmers, but it's a pretty good deal for construction," Schorzman said.

The only problem these days, he said, is that motorists are starting to use the road after the construction crews are done for the day. While Schorzman is not worried the road or bridge has any structural problems, he cautions drivers to think twice about the decision. Because the road is not complete, they can be ticketed if they are caught driving on it, and insurance companies tend to frown on covering any accidents that occur on roads that are still under construction.

"If they have some sort of accident, their insurance company can say, too bad, you were on a closed road," he said. "It makes you wonder if it's worth it."

For the time being, the speed limit allowed over much of the span will be 55 miles per hour. That will remain at least until the city and Dakota County are able to get out to the road and conduct a traffic study or two.

It has been nearly a year since the roundabout on Highway 3 was completed. Having that roundabout open when it did may have seemed like a nuisance at first, Schorzman said, but giving people time to adjust to it was no accident. In that time, drivers have been able to adjust to the new traffic control device, at first with just the north-south traffic, then gradually with the addition of traffic to Southern Hills Golf Course on the east side. When the 195th Street extension opens, drivers are advised to watch for the increase in traffic from the west, too.

The completed project will now extend 195th Street/County Road 64 from Akin Road to Highway 3. The full road actually connects Highway 3 to Flagstaff Avenue on the city's west side. Future county plans are to extend County Road 64 all the way to Cedar Avenue in Lakeville. That extension, though, is several years out.