The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 4, 2013

Businesses praise roundabout plans

MnDOT offers to improve access, speed up project

A revised plan to preserve some access to businesses during the upcoming construction of two Highway 22 roundabouts in Mankato while completing the project more quickly won fans at a Thursday meeting.

Calling it the “revised hybrid option,” Minnesota Department of Transportation project manager Glen Coudron told business owners that the contractor would be working six- or seven-day weeks and 12- or 16-hour days.

Though plans are only 60 percent complete, these and other changes could cut perhaps three weeks off the project, which is slated to begin next June.

In September, MnDOT said it decided to build both roundabouts at the same time, which requires it to close two Highway 22 intersections, at Adams Street and Madison Avenue. Businesses, especially those east of Highway 22, such as Hy-Vee and Gander Mountain, complained that their only access would be from Madison Avenue at Haefner Drive. It’s a relatively small road, and not even on the detour.

In the last few weeks, officials have been working on options to preserve access, and they presented two options to the 40 or so business people who gathered at Snell Motors on Thursday. Both of them involve a temporary access road using Highway 22 just north of Adams Street.

The first option would cross Highway 22, connecting the parking lots at Gander Mountain and River Hills Mall but not with Highway 22 traffic. The second option would allow Highway 22 traffic, reduced to one lane in each direction, to enter or leave the Gander Mountain parking lot. There would be no connection with the west side of Highway 22, including River Hills Mall.

Officials came into the meeting preferring the first option, for several reasons.

The access road is meant only for traffic accessing local businesses, not as a general detour. But because it connects with Highway 22 traffic, it provides an attractive option to cut through the detour.

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