4/18/2013 10:19:00 AM Residents want overpass at 52/9
by Ken Haggerty
A crowd of about 100 turned out at the Urland Church on April 11 to hear and respond to MnDOT's plans for a "Reduced Conflict Intersection" (RCI) at the deadly and dangerous intersection of U.S. Hwy. 52 and Goodhue County Road 9.
In informal talks with planners and engineers gathered around plan drawings before and after the meeting, and in a public forum, area residents made it clear they are not big fans of the plan. Many called the RCI plan a "band-aid" or a "cheap" alternative to what they say is really needed to make the intersection safe: a new overpass.
Residents also questioned the ability of large trucks and farm equipment to successfully negotiate the new design, saying it may create new accidents.
MnDOT representatives said they have no funding currently available for an overpass (Estimated in the range of $8 -12 million), but said they have money to put the RCI in place later this year (estimated cost $1 million).
The RCI design is relatively new, but a Federal Highway engineer at the meeting said the plan is proving to be very effective at reducing right-angle or t-bone crashes, the kind that have made 52/9 one of the more deadly crash sites in the State.
For this situation, MnDOT would put in a raised concrete area in the Hwy. 52/9 median to restrict crossings with designated turn lanes put in for traffic southbound on Hwy. 52 to head east on County 9 and for traffic northbound on Hwy. 52 to head west on County 9.
Traffic heading east on County 9 would be unable to cross Hwy. 52 at the current intersection or to go northbound on 52 at the current intersection. That traffic would be directed south on Hwy. 52, will have to move into the left hand lane, and then perform a U-turn at the current median crossing at 100th Avenue to get on northbound Hwy. 52. To continue eastbound on County 9, they would have to again cross over traffic and exit from the right lane of Hwy. 52
Traffic heading west on County 9 will be similarly restricted and asked to go north on Hwy. 52, make a u-turn move at the median crossing at 90th Avenue and then could head southbound on Hwy. 52,
Residents said the distance from County 9 to the sites of the u-turns is a challenge, especially for heavier and slower trucks or farm equipment looking to negotiate in and across traffic that frequently travels at 70 to 80 m.p.h. It's about 2,700 feet to 90th from County 9 and about 4,800 feet to 100th from County 9. The southern median crossing is also a little narrower, making it an especially challenging u-turn for an extended truck or a tractor pulling equipment.
MnDOT noted that new lanes (500 feet long) will be added coming out of the 52/9 intersection to facilitate acceleration and merging and also 500 foot lanes added heading into the 100th and 90th Avenue median crossings, to facilitate deceleration and making the u-turn. Lighting would also be added at all three of the intersections to improve visibility,
Goodhue County Commissioners Jim Bryant, Dan Rechtzigel and Richard Samuelson were all in attendance and said they also would prefer to see an overpass. They said the County has committed to spending $1.5 million to move the plan forward. The County is hoping funding is made available through the Corridor Investment Management Strategy pool of funds this year, but the money in the pool is limited and is awarded through grants on a statewide basis.