Downtown Highway 41 Project


Project Overview

The Downtown Highway 41 Project will help the City of Chaska achieve its vision of downtown revitalization that reflects and celebrates its historic character, traditional small town atmosphere, and values. The vision for Highway 41 through downtown Chaska is a two-lane road with turn lanes that better balances roadway needs with the pedestrian space. The addition of streetscaping, pedestrian/bicyclist connections, and gathering spaces will create a more comfortable and inviting environment for all users. These improvements will preserve and enrich the downtown ambience while making it a popular destination and hub of the community.

Planned Improvements

The Downtown Highway 41 Project incorporates several key changes, including:

  • Reconstruction of Highway 41 (Minnesota River bridge to Walnut Court)
  • Reconstruction of Chaska Boulevard (Highway 41 to Yellow Brick Road)
  • Addition of three public parking lots east of Highway 41 (north and south of City Square Park)
  • Addition of downtown streetscaping and wayfinding elements
  • Improved and additional pedestrian connections and spaces
  • Pedestrian tunnel under Highway 41
  • Addition of an enhanced pedestrian crossing on Highway 41 at Walnut Court
  • Upgraded public utility lines
Benefits of these improvements include:
  • A safer and more welcoming environment for pedestrians and bicycle users
  • Improved ADA accessibility
  • A revitalization of downtown that will benefit existing businesses and attract new businesses
  • Safer and more reliable routes for all transportation modes

Watch the video below to get an idea of what Downtown Chaska will look like after construction of the project.

Project History

Founded in 1852, Chaska has a historic downtown with many 19th century structures remaining. Today, it is an active and evolving economic center and regional attraction home to more than 175 businesses. Highway 41 bisects Downtown Chaska, providing local access and circulation as well as connections to the greater Twin Cities metro area. Highway 41 also serves as one of the four Minnesota River crossings in the southwestern metro area.

The highway’s existing four-lane divided roadway with parking on the northbound lanes leaves little room for sidewalks, which makes downtown uninviting to non-motorized travel. Highway 41 does not have left turn lanes at intersections within downtown. The lack of left turn lanes creates major disruptions to the main roadway, causing cars to weave over a lane to avoid getting stuck behind turning vehicles. Safety, pedestrians, parking, speed, environment, access, and mobility are among the numerous concerns by the businesses, property owners, and public.

2015-2017: Identifying Potential Improvements

During a 2015-2017 study, Carver County, MnDOT, and the City of Chaska worked together to identify transportation system improvements on Highway 41 and Highway 61 (Chaska Boulevard). The purpose of the study was to identify and prioritize road improvements to address existing issues, prepare for future growth, and utilize existing funding. Study goals are shown below.

The study resulted in an implementation plan that outlined a strategy to implement improvement projects over time. Multiple projects were identified in Downtown Chaska. One of those projects, the Chaska Boulevard Bridge and Roadway Improvements Project, was completed in spring of 2018.

Goals of the Study

Preserve and enrich the ambience of historic Downtown Chaska. It is important to maintain the historic, traditional, small-town atmosphere and character of Downtown Chaska. This means the general public should be able to easily access downtown by car, bicycle, bus, or foot; park in close proximity to downtown destinations; and feel welcome spending time in downtown.

Provide a comprehensive network for non-motorized transportation. People desire to walk and bike within and through Downtown. Improvements on Highway 41 and Chaska Boulevard should provide adequate space for walkers and bikers to allow them to move efficiently, feel safe and welcome, and be able to cross both highways at multiple locations.

Safely accommodate all users. Safely accommodating all users (vehicles, heavy trucks, pedestrians, bicyclists, and buses) is a high priority. This means minimizing surprises to drivers, providing space for all users, and enhancing opportunities to cross both highways safely.

Provide efficient and reliable vehicle mobility. It is important that both Highway 41 and Chaska Boulevard continue to function efficiently, allowing users to access and move through Downtown Chaska. The region is expected to see continued growth into the future. The highways that exist today will need to accommodate the anticipated growth.

Provide infrastructure improvements compatible with the natural and human environment. Downtown Chaska is a unique destination with multiple historic buildings, a historic district, and numerous businesses. Preservation of historic resources, along with minimizing impacts to the natural and built environment, is a high priority to all agencies.

Develop a financially responsible implementation plan. Cost is a significant factor for the City of Chaska, Carver County, and MnDOT. Investments must utilize funds in a reasonable and responsible manner. Improvement recommendations need to be affordable and packaged to leverage competitive state and federal funding sources.

2018-2022: Funding and Designing the Downtown Highway 41 Project

We are now moving forward with one of the projects identified in the study – the Downtown Highway 41 Project. Project partners assembled a funding package for this project between 2018-2020. With funding secured, we are now in the final design phase of the project, which will last through spring 2022. Construction of the project is scheduled to occur in two phases in summer-fall 2022 and spring-fall 2023. Check out the Construction tab for more information.

Project Timeline

2015-2017:  Planning Study
2018-2020:  Project Funding
2021-2022:  Project Design
2022-2023:  Construction (tentative)

Full timeline shown below. Click for larger view.