Construction has begun on two new interchanges in Sartell. One is a new roundabout in front of CentraCare and the other is a confusing "Diamond Interchange" that MNDOT thinks is the best solution to traffic problems.

I passed by Hennen's Furniture on Hwy 15 earlier today and you can already expect lane closures while crews prepare for the initial stages of the diamond interchange at Hwy 15 and Co Rd 120. Sartell Police have already started alerting drivers on their Facebook page that we can expect delays in an already congested area.

Adding insult to injury, we now are going to have to detour around the CentraCare complex on Co Rd 120 so they can install yet ANOTHER roundabout in Sartell. So expect gridlock in all the areas around WalMart in the coming months.

I have a few problems with this both of these projects. Now before you start getting all high and mighty on me, I want to say that I'm happy we are creating jobs, putting people to work on our highways and keeping the economy running. What I'm not happy about is the fact that the highway department expects this to run smoothly. How can you possibly think that a diamond interchange is going to run smoothly. I like to think of myself as a smart person, but even I get confused when looking at diagrams of this thing.

Have you ever driven the back side of WalMart and Sam's Club on a Saturday afternoon? It is a bloody nightmare of traffic. People can't seem to figure out a circle. They can't figure out that you have to go around the circle to make your left hand turn. It's actually dangerous to drive in that area as I have almost been hit several times by people that can't figure it out. So now we feel there's a reason to add ANOTHER roundabout to this already confusing area. That makes zero sense to me.

Adding on to this problem is this European diamond intersection that eliminates cross traffic left turns or some mumbo jumbo mess that they have tried to explain to us to get us to say, "yeah, that's going to be a breeze." Here's an intersection that you'll have to drive up to on the right side of the road. Then as you cross Hwy 15, you'll actually transition to the wrong side of the road to go across the highway, then transition back to the right side of the road on the other side. Yeah, that's going to be a breeze for these people that are just trying to go to Wally World.

The third issue I have with all of this is the fact that MNDOT wanted to move forward with this project before the new WalMart opens in St. Cloud. The Sartell WalMart is the ONLY one in the St. Cloud area, it is the busiest WalMart in the state and has so many customers rolling through there that they can barely keep up with stocking the shelves daily. So not only do you have regular Sartell traffic, people passing through on Highway 15 to go north and people just trying to get across town, you add in thousands of cars going to WalMart every day.

So let's see, if the new WalMart were open, it would eliminate some of the traffic on Hwy 15 coming from St. Cloud to WalMart, then there wouldn't be as much traffic to add into the confusion of all this construction. But no, let's make things hard shall we? Let's start construction so we can sit in traffic at 5pm on a Wednesday for 30 minutes instead of the 15 minutes we already experience.

I'm no expert, I don't claim to be, nor do I want to be. What I am is someone that reports on the dumb things people do and too many times I've seen people not being able to use a simple roundabout, now you want them to use a diamond, and a roundabout and another roundabout to get to WalMart - not a smart idea.

This is just another reason why I go to WalMart at 4am. I don't have to deal with construction or traffic! So I caution you MNDOT employees that are working in this area. You are doing so at your own risk. People trying to get to WalMart are not going to be the most patient people in the world and I would venture to say that you are going to see more rude and dangerous behavior inside this project than you've ever seen. Just be careful out there.

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