The first map of the day was sent to me by my brother-in-law, Dave. He sends me maps from time to time and this particular link to Smithsonian Magazine features several recently declassified CIA maps. Very cool! Map 181 is a CIA map of Cuba in September, 1962, 17 months after the attempted Bay of Pigs invasion by CIA-backed revolutionaries and just one month before the Cuban Missile Crisis. The red dots are confirmed surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites with the red bubbles being their assumed missile range. SAMs are used to protect ground forces and specific territory from air attack.
The red stars show the location of airfields. The second one from the left near Santa Clara is covering the Bay of Pigs area. While reading about the Bay of Pigs I found a map that shows the landing site of the invasion force. These maps are fun but I know they represent important subject matter. Somewhere between 1000-4500 people died in the Bay of Pigs (casualty totals are unconfirmed). To read about CIA cartography and see more of their declassified maps, please visit Smithsonian Magazine.
They say there are two seasons in Minnesota; Winter and Road Construction. Map 182 hits pretty close to home in that regard as there is a large road construction project starting next week South of our house. Highway 169 is a four-lane highway running North/South through the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), one of eight North/South highways that are four-lane or larger. It’s a major artery that Beth takes to work and we take to get to either of our parents’ houses in Eden Prairie. When the project begins, Beth will have to take slower surface streets to work and we’ll need to go 4 miles out of our way to reach Eden Prairie. We’re not the only ones affected, of course, as thousands of commuters travel this stretch of highway daily. Those thousands are no doubt researching the fastest alternative routes this weekend as they face a troubling new existence come Tuesday.
Nobody likes change, myself included, but this construction will drastically improve the highway. In addition to general resurfacing, an entire bridge over Nine Mile Creek will be replaced. It’s hard to notice when you’re driving over it going 55mph (okay, 62mph) but I guess the bridge is in disrepair and needs to be replaced by 2020. The new causeway is the primary reason the stretch of highway needs to be shut down instead of just using sporadic lane closures.
There will also be two other parts of this project that I am a huge fan of having lived in Minnetonka for two years. The Cedar Lake Road interchange improvement and the closure of the 16th Street ramps are fantastic ideas (ones I had every friggin’ morning driving to work in North Minneapolis). We lived very close to 169 just off Cedar Lake Road and those ramps are currently a nightmare. All four are too short and do not give drivers enough time to accelerate or decelerate adequately. Too many times did I get my turn to enter 169 North only to be stuck behind someone too timid to get up to speed fast enough. When faced with merging into fast-moving traffic, they freeze up and stop making other people stop too. With only about 50 feet to accelerate to 55mph considering how busy 169 can be during rush hour, it is understandable. That’s not nearly enough space so they are being reworked and lengthened this summer. The 16th Street Ramps have the exact same problem but the ramps are even shorter. Fortunately, 16th Street has a lot fewer cars entering the highway so all the Minnesota Department of Transportation needs to do to fix the situation is close the ramps permanently.
This project is slated to last until October of this year which isn’t too bad in the end. It would have been a 3 year project if they tried to do all the work separately and close smaller portions of the highway at different times. Doing everything in one shot will reduce potential interference with other road construction projects on all the other metro highways and closing the entire thing instead of using lane closures should be safer for road workers. It’s going to be painful and annoying for ten months but the result should be a much better Highway 169. I’m excited for the end result.
UPDATE: The project start date was pushed back until January 23rd and now they’ve released an interactive version of the construction project map!
That’s it for this edition. It’s my birthday this week so happy birthday to me. Until next time,