MANKATO — State transportation officials should expand the capacity and the safety of Highway 22 south of Mankato, particularly the intersection with Blue Earth County Road 90, when reconstructing the highway in three years, according to the Blue Earth County Board.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is planning to spend more than $24 million to rehabilitate 13 miles of the road in 2017 and 2018, and the county is preparing to ask MnDOT to spend quite a bit more. A draft resolution the board is expected to approve in coming weeks requests that the four-lane portion of Highway 22 through Mankato be extended another two miles to County Road 90 and a roundabout or other improvement be strongly considered for the accident-prone intersection.
The resolution will also ask for improvements at nine other intersections of county roads with Highway 22, including right and left turn lanes and overhead lighting, along with paved shoulders on the highway.
Only one of the requests is a bit of a pipe dream. The extension of the four-lane for two more miles to County Road 90 may happen eventually, but not as part of the 2017-18 upgrade, according to Al Forsberg, the county's public works director.
"That's not going to happen," Forsberg said. "They don't have the money ... . But I think it's reasonable to keep that in front of us."
The intersections, though, need improvements — particularly at County Road 90, where the latest serious crash occurred just a month ago and put two teenagers in a Rochester hospital for several days.
"We're concerned about the safety of those intersections," he said.
The most serious crashes at 22 and 90 have been of the T-bone variety, something a roundabout would eliminate.
"We'd be asking them to take a fresh look at that and add that to the 2017-18 project," Forsberg said.