The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 16, 2013

Update: MnDOT reconsidering roundabout plan

Disruptive option chosen, then reaction causes reconsideration

MANKATO — Area transportation officials announced Monday that they'd settled on the "just get it over with" option for the construction of a pair of multi-lane roundabouts at two of Mankato's busiest intersections next summer. Hours later, they announced that negative feedback was prompting them to reconsider.

The option — which would fully close Madison Avenue and Adams Street just before they intersect with Highway 22 and would shut down the section of Highway 22 between Highway 14 and Bassett Drive — also was preferred in a survey of business owners last month who liked that strategy's capacity to get the project completed in fewer than four months.

Officially called Option 4 by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the "just get it over with" option would be the most disruptive to traffic flow at south-central Minnesota's two most crash-prone intersections and the two intersections that serve River Hills Mall and the bulk of the city's other major retailers. The disruption of shutting down the highway and intersections, however, would be offset by the fact that the 16-week construction schedule was about half as long as Option 2 and 10 weeks faster than Option 3, along with being the least expensive and safest for traffic and work crews.

But when word got out through the media and through direct emails from MnDOT to business owners in Mankato's retail hub, a number of calls came in.

"Some of them who'd even voted for that (option) were reconsidering it," said MnDOT spokeswoman Rebecca Arndt. "So we're going to put it on pause and listen to them."

A time hasn't been set yet, but a meeting will be scheduled to take further input and hear concerns from business owners about the Option 4 construction plans. The meeting, and a final decision, will need to come soon, however.

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