The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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May 21, 2013

Roundabout concerns, affections voiced

Open house provided information about Highway 22 plans

MANKATO — Construction is still a year away, but the prospect of roundabouts at two of Mankato¹s busiest intersections drew a crowd to an informational meeting at the regional headquarters of the Minnesota Department of Transportation Tuesday.

Two steps into the conference room, it was clear that there¹s some intensity of feeling among some area residents about the idea of multi-lane roundabouts at Highway 22 and Madison Avenue and at Highway 22 and Adams Street.

³"So people are going to be used to these even before (the new ones) open," said MnDOT engineer Scott Thompson, running through the numerous roundabouts in place or to be added soon to the area road system.

"If you guys think it¹s great, fine," a Mankato man responded. "But I hope the city¹s going to pay for the accidents that are going to happen."

Thompson countered that roundabouts will slow traffic speeds at the

intersections, eliminate T-bone crashes and most other serious accidents, and end the need for long stops waiting for red lights to turn green.

The Mankato man wasn¹t persuaded.

'Oh, I hate 'em,' he said of roundabouts.

He would give only his first name, Jeff, because he works in construction and his employer would potentially be looking to construct the project next summer.

"I think they¹re a dumb idea," Jeff said. "They¹re not meant for semis. If you have an accident in a roundabout, it shuts down the whole intersection ..."

Jeff came to the meeting partly to get his strong opinion off his chest,

partly out of hope that he could persuade MnDOT, the city and the county to abandon the joint project. But he also has strong opinions about engineers and wasn¹t optimistic about the potential of persuading them.

"To most engineers, 'common sense' is a swear word," he said.

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