ELK RIVER -- Highway 169 in Elk River will be converted into a freeway in order to ease bottlenecks caused by traffic signals.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation awarded the project $157-million through the Corridors of Commerce program.

The funding will be used to build interchanges at Main Street, School Street, 193rd Avenue and partial interchange 197th Avenue.

In a statement, Sherburne County Public Works Director Andrew Witter says "Focus groups and specifically members of freight and commercial industries have expressed concerns with Highway 169, saying they don't travel on the highway because of massive delays."

After completion, there will be only one traffic light on Highway 169 between Rogers and Lake Mille Lacs. That signal is in Zimmerman.

A total of $417-million was awarded to four projects through the program which is designed to improve the flow of freight to market.  The other projects are expanding Interstate 94 from four to six lanes between St. Michael and Albertville and two projects on Interstate 494 in the Twin Cities metro area.