There have been many road construction projects in the Twin Cities of Minnesota over the past few years to help alleviate the rush-hour gridlock. One of the worst areas of traffic gridlock has been on Highway 169 where it crosses Interstate 494. This is due to the fact that Highway 169 is not an expressway where it passes over I-494 and has traffic lights for the ramps to and from I-494.
To make matters worse Highway 169 is only 1 of 4 ways to cross the Minnesota River in the southwest metro. This can make it difficult to avoid the Highway 169 and I-494 bottleneck unless you are familiar with the surrounding area.
Living in the Twin Cities now for over 20 years and in the southwest metro “south of the river” for more than half of that time, I have found it necessary to find ways to avoid Highway 169 where it crosses I-494. The key to taking another route instead of Highway 169 and not driving 15-20 miles out of your way, is to consider where in the Twin Cities metro you are starting from and were you need to end up at.
To cross the Minnesota River in the southwest metro these are your choices, listed from west to east:
-Highway 41 between Jordan south of the river and Chaska north of the river
-Highway 101 between Shakopee south of the river and Chanhassen north of the river
-Highway 169 between Shakopee south of the river and Eden Prairie / Bloomington north of the river
-I-35 between Burnsville south of the river and Bloomington north of the river
For longer distance trips where you would normally take Highway 169, you can use the following alternate routes depending on your starting location and destination.
Northwest Twin Cities Metro to Southwest Twin Cities Metro
Instead of taking I-494 south / east to Highway 169 take the Flying Cloud Drive exit from I-494 south. Follow Flying Cloud Drive and take either Highway 101 over the Minnesota River to Shakopee or Highway 41 in Chaska over the river into Jordan.
Northeast Twin Cities Metro to Southwest Twin Cities Metro
Instead of using Highway 169, take I-35W until south of I-494. To travel to Eden Prairie, Shakopee or some point west or southwest of these cities exit onto Old Shakopee Road. To travel to Savage or Prior Lake continue on I-35W until south of the Minnesota River and exit onto Highway 13. Highway 13 will take you west through the northern part of Burnsville, into Savage, and then south to Prior Lake.
North Twin Cities Metro to Southwest Twin Cities Metro (suburbs north of the Minnesota River)
Coming from the north on Highway 169, about 5 miles north of I-494 take the Crosstown (Highway 62) / Highway 212 west. Follow Highway 212 west to Eden Prairie and the southwest suburbs north of the Minnesota River.
North Twin Cities Metro to Southwest Twin Cities Metro (suburbs south of the Minnesota River)
As for the southwest suburbs north of the river, coming from the north on Highway 169, about 5 miles north of I-494 take the Crosstown (Highway 62) / Highway 212 west. Follow Highway 212 west to Eden Prairie, exiting at Valley View Road. Turn left onto Valley View Road and then left onto Flying Cloud Drive. Follow Flying Cloud Drive through Eden Prairie and into Chanhassen. Then cross the Minnesota River via Highway 101 to Shakopee or further west via Highway 41 in Chaska to Jordan.
Avoiding Highway 169 to cross I-494 north to south, or the reverse
If you only need to cross I-494 near Highway 169 to travel a short distance, not to or from the southwest metro cities, you have only a few choices. Not to be confused by the instructions below, W 78th Street is:
-the north frontage road of I-494 east of Highway 169
-the south frontage road of I-494 west of Highway 169
To crossover I-494 west of Highway 169 follow Viking Drive on the north side of I-494 west, turn left onto Eden Prairie Center Drive, continue on Eden Prairie Center Drive as it crosses under I-494, then turn left onto W 78th Street heading east. Continue eastward to your destination west of Highway 169.
To crossover I-494 east of Highway 169 you need to get to W 78th Street (the frontage road north of I-494). If you are close to Highway 169 and somewhat north of I-494, you will need to follow Valley View Road south until it turns east into W 78th Street. Continue east first to W Bush Lake Road, then to Bush Lake Road, or to Highway 100 depending on how far east your destination is. To reach the areas directly south of I-494 closest to Highway 169, W Bush Lake Road will be your likely choice. To go to areas somewhat further east of Highway 169 use either Bush Lake Road or Highway 100.
Knowing these alternate routes and a little planning before hitting the road, will save you much frustration and countless hours of just sitting in a traffic jam.