ST. PAUL — A state highway that stretches from Minnetonka to Inver Grove Heights has an identity crisis.
It's Minnesota 62 from Interstate 494 in Minnetonka to just west of Fort Snelling, when it becomes Minnesota 55. Across the Minnesota River in Mendota Heights, its name changes yet again: to Minnesota 110, which ends at Interstate 494 in Inver Grove Heights.
Over the years, the names have caused confusion for drivers who are unfamiliar with the area and end up taking the wrong road, said Jon Solberg, Minnesota Department of Transportation south area manager. It's especially an issue for those going to or leaving the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, he said.
Now, MnDOT says it has a solution: Starting next summer, Minnesota 110 will become Minnesota 62.
Meanwhile, the stretch of Minnesota 55 near and crossing the river will be dual-signed as 55 and 62.
Mendota Heights Mayor Neil Garlock sees the logic behind MnDOT's decision to rename Minnesota 110, which runs through Sunfish Lake and West St. Paul. But that doesn't mean he necessarily likes it.
"They're just trying to tie one end of 494 to the other end of 494 with a common name," he said. "If I had my way I would say, 'No, leave it,' because it's been 110 forever. But I also know there's nothing we can do about it."
According to Solberg, MnDOT decided to rename 110 instead of renaming 62 because 110 is a remnant of an old naming convention for the Highway 100 beltway system that once surrounded the metro area.
State Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, whose district includes most of 110, said he has heard split reviews from people about the name change since writing about it in a Legislative update email earlier this month.
"I think that was the first time many people in the district actually heard about it," he said. "It's interesting, because I got some immediate things like, 'No, don't do this.' And others who said, 'This makes sense.' "
Hansen said some people mentioned the cost of signage, which MnDOT estimates will be $30,000. But he doesn't think cost is a major issue.
"We replace signs all the time," Hansen said.
New signs go up in July
Hansen questions whether the name change will make any difference, considering how many drivers rely on navigation systems.
"You put your destination in your GPS or phone and there you go," he said. "But with the airport and it being a regional area, reducing confusion for visitors is important."
The new signage will go up in July. To help motorists get used to the change, Minnesota 110 signs will be modified to include "old" for one year.
MnDOT said it has determined the number of address changes in each city and that it plans to meet with businesses this fall so they can prepare for the change.
Garlock said it no doubt will take some getting used to for area residents. And for some, he said, "it'll just always be 110."