In Hwy 169 lane reduction, ‘Satan laughed’

The experts who know better have squeezed Highway 169 from three lanes to two lanes. To them, it makes sense. To drivers, not so much.

But some good has come out of the commuting headache. We’ve come to know of the writing of Amy Mytnik of Shakopee, whose letter to the editor in the Star Tribune today is an instant classic.

More lanes are better; this can’t be overstated

I was so frustrated Monday to find Hwy. 169 in Shakopee changed back to two lanes in each direction. The three-lane structure put in place to help traffic flow following flooding in June had shaved almost 20 minutes off my commute.

With three lanes, drivers were smiling, birds were singing and the sun glistened down, saying: “Here … take this path, it is wide open to pursue your dreams. Go, dreamer, sit at your desk, drink your coffee and earn your keep.”

On Monday, drivers were shaking fists and birds sat quietly as they watched tempers rising, losing a feather in angst with each honk. The sky was overcast, an omen over the land. Most assuredly, 25 percent of the Twin Cities population was late to work as a result, the lost wages causing financial and, ultimately, marital strife, leading to divorce and broken homes.

Satan laughed.

Please consider the whole picture when planning these changes. There is a lot more involved than the engineering. You’re playing with people’s lives (and bird’s feathers). We are not just puppets on Hot Wheels tracks for you to vroom-vroom around.

Think about it.

Pretty please?

Amy Mytnik, Shakopee

  • Jack

    After navigating the newly laid (designed while drinking-DWD) highway (694 through Shoreview) last winter during the Ice Days of Hell, I am convinced that the Civil Engineers employed by MnDOT are drunk.

  • clost

    Perhaps this is a new approach in the DOT to obtain funding for projects. Build additional lanes in congested areas, then take them away. Citizens will demand the additional lanes be returned permanently, and presto! the funding will be found.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Did they give a reason for going back to two lanes other than the flood disappeared?

    • David

      This. Can someone dig into the why? I remember a few years ago when 35W bridge collapsed MnDOT had to request exception to federal rules to add a lane to 94. Could something like that be at play here?

  • Chris

    So how was the commute before June when 169 was switched to three lanes? Did she consider how bad the commute apparently is to her when deciding to live in Shakopee? I don’t think we as a society have enough resources to make enough lanes to satisfy exurban commuters for the few hours a day they would be needed.

    • kevinfromminneapolis

      We don’t have enough money to satisfy urban-centrics’ dreams of being a mini-Euro Portlandia either, but it’s not stopping us. A billion here, a billion five there. Meh. Hand over your special assessment please and kindly shut yer mouth about it.

      • Chris

        Sure we do. Money spent on mass transit is much more efficient. So far in 15 years we have spent two billion (some of that is federal money too) for two light rail lines that are extremely successful (and nobody is writing whiny letters when the trains are full either). MNDot spends around $3 billion each and every year but apparently it’s not enough…but p.s. don’t raise the gas tax either…somehow it will all work out if we just build more highways to Shakopee.

        • kevinfromminneapolis


          • Chris

            Dallas and Houston have LRT. Do you realize how out on the fringe you are? You want to be left behind by cities in Texas? This isn’t about euro portlandia. Smarm and snark are not arguments.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            Neither is that other cities do it. Or the notion that it’s money spent efficiently.

          • Chris

            The funny thing about the ongoing debate of roads vs. mass transit is that of course mass transit fans also know we need roads (strange to assume otherwise), it is the other side that thinks we really don’t need mass transit, that it just takes money away from roads.

            All things being equal, if you want to plan a convention and Dallas has LRT but Minneapolis doesn’t, Minneapolis loses, that is an argument. Of course it matters if other cities are building infrastructure and we aren’t. Maybe we should have kept the HHH Metrodome.

      • Justin

        Did You Know: Portlandia is set in the city of Portland, which is in Oregon, one of the United States. Those who believe Portland’s transit network aspires to be more similar to European systems might describe the effort as mini-Euro Portlandia. But “urban centrics'” dreams, applied elsewhere, would be best described as “Euro” or “mini-Euro” themselves or, alternatively, as “Portlandia” or “mini-Portlandia.” Here, Europe is seen as the source and the secondary implementation gets the derivative name. “Minne-Euro-sota” would be appropriate, for example. Unless one truly means to emulate only those tenets of “urban centrism” that flourish in Europe and have been successfully implemented in Portland. In which case, one could use “mini-Euro Portlandia” as a descriptor. However, doing so would be indicative of one’s idiocy.

    • Amy Gleason Mytnik

      As I said in my rebuttal…I did not need to cross the bridge when we moved to Shakopee so this is a moot point.

      • Chris

        I don’t know, if you live just south of a choke point can you really assume you won’t at some point need to cross at rush hour?

        • Amy Gleason Mytnik

          To date my schedule was such that I did not have to take 169 during rush hour or if I had such a need I could maneuver alternate routes. I could take 13 to 35w for my purposes though it would be adding miles and stoplights to my.commute.

  • Amy Gleason Mytnik


    I sent the same letter to MNDOT and got a friendly response from the director for SW metro. He said 169 was reduced back to 2 lanes in anticipation of the buses which use the shoulders to bypass traffic to meet their schedules; as opposed to having three lanes to evenly filter the buses temporarily into the smoothly running traffic over the bridge so it can move back to the shoulder on the other side. (Apparently Joe Taxpayer, whose commute cannot be anchored to the inefficient bus schedules/routes, can be inconveniently delayed to accommodate the half filled buses.)

    MNDOT and Metro Transit…because two inefficient systems are better than one.

    He went on to point out that the narrower shoulder doesn’t allow for snow removal so the two lanes will provide more space for snow to pile up…on the shoulder…where the half filled buses run…?

    Your tax dollars hard at work!

    I offered alternatives for the snow removal such as a lift system to throw it over the edge, heated roadways or laser drones to melt the piles and received a less friendly rebuttal and something about “pollution in the river”, millions of dollars and are you crazy? (Okay…the last one was more a vibe than an actual comment)

    I’m sure MNDOT would love more feedback on this matter because it really matters to the metro at large, especially with the job boom happening in the SW metro.

    • Veronica

      So….I take from this you don’t care about the river, have no idea how much money it would take to put in heated roads, and have invented something called “laser drones”?

      I echo previous sentiments. Picking a place to live means there will be trade offs. Nothing is perfect, and we can’t all demand silly things like lasers to save us 10 minutes a day. You can be upset, that’s fine, but I think you’re going to find a overwhelming response of, “So?”

      • Amy Gleason Mytnik

        Naturally, I care about the environmental repercussions. I was merely employing argumentum ad absurdum to make a point of how ridiculous the MNDOT’s reasoning for lane reduction is. (By the way, to my knowledge there is no such lift system or laser drone and I certainly don’t have the engineering know how to develop either).

        When we moved here I did not need to cross the bridge to work. Now I drive from from one exit (CR 21) to the next directly over the bridge (Old Shakopee Rd) – less than a 1 mile drive which went from 5 mins to 30 minutes since the lane reduction. (Speaking of the environment – I wonder about the difference in the emissions of a 94 Honda is on a 5 min trip versus 30 mins)

        Please do not misunderstand me. I appreciate the work that MNDOT and Metro Transit do overall. It just seems that reducing the lanes on a road which carries thousands of commuters daily to accommodate a few hundred bus passengers seems a little imbalanced to me.

        For others it might just be a ‘So?’ kinda thing.

        And that’s okay.

        • Michael Klatsky

          If it is less than a mile, why can’t you walk?

          Driving that distance so slowly seems stupid.

          • Amy Gleason Mytnik

            It’s less than a mile from exit to exit – a total of about 7 miles from home to work.