MnDOT hosts Nicollet meeting
NICOLLET – The public is encouraged to attend a meeting about future plans for the U.S. Highway 14 and State Highway 111 intersection, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 16 in the Nicollet Public School Community Room.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) hosts the meeting to review intersection engineering analysis draft recommendations, access changes and area traffic movement.
Construction of a four-lane highway expansion from North Mankato to Nicollet and a 2.5-mile bypass around Nicollet were recently advanced from 2017-18 to 2015-16 with Corridors of Commerce funding. The Minnesota River bridge at New Ulm is scheduled to be replaced in 2018.
A 2012 Road Safety Audit (RSA) confirmed head-on crashes are of particular concern on Highway 14 from Nicollet to North Mankato. Data showed a multi-faceted approach of education, enforcement and a road solution are needed to address safety concerns.
Since RSA results were released, the State Patrol stepped up traffic enforcement, focusing on speeding, distracted and drunk driving and seat belt use.
In the fall of 2012, MnDOT built a $2.5 million “innovative roadway design” with an eight-foot wide center buffer, lane separators and rumble strips between lanes intended to reduce crashes on Highway 14 between Nicollet and North Mankato. The highway features will stay in place until the four-lane expansion is done.
To maximize efficiency, MnDOT will reuse as much of the existing pavement and materials as possible during the four-lane project, estimated to cost $20 to $22 million to the east end of Nicollet; $31 to $33 million with the Nicollet bypass.
In May 2003, MnDOT completed a Scoping Decision Document on Highway 14 from New Ulm to North Mankato. Findings were road improvements are needed to address safety, traffic congestion, increased truck traffic and highway access. Citizen input was received to identify four-lane routes, and that MnDOT should do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study to identify the preferred alternative.
Study results showed Courtland prefers a northern bypass, Nicollet a close southern bypass, but a New Ulm bypass is not being studied because past studies showed a New Ulm bypass is not consistent with area travel patterns.
Building four lanes on existing highway alignment west of Courtland creates some challenges, but the option of a new road on top of the Minnesota River bluff would be very costly to build and create significant farmland impacts, according to MnDOT.
The Highway 14 expansion project will feature a system of frontage roads, interchanges and intersections designed for added safety and efficiency with interchange ramps instead of existing intersections.
The project will result in farmland acquisition and field severance. Farmers may have to travel farther to reach their fields since there would be no private access to Highway 14. The Draft EIS reviews how each alternative would impact farmland.
For more information, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/d7/projects/14newulmtonmankato/.
Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.