Highway 169 received funding to be raised one foot above the 100-year floodplain, including a rise of 2 feet to 4 feet between Union Street and Highway 22. So MnDOT figured that it could improve the intersections at the same time. And the city realized it could make its own planned upgrades, perhaps using the same contractor as MnDOT.
The new U-turn intersections, though safer, will likely be more time-consuming, as well. This could have the effect of pushing traffic to nearby intersections. So MnDOT is closing the access at Ritt Street and converting two accesses — at Dranttel Street and Old Minnesota Avenue — into so-called “right-in, right-out” intersections. This involves the closing of the median, resulting in the elimination of left turns and through crossings.
Finally, the access at Union Street, near the Lager dealership, would be changed to a “three-fourths” intersection. Traffic could still enter the road from Highway 169, but it would prevent left turns onto the highway.
The city portion of the project, which wasn’t up for approval Monday, involves the construction of a roundabout at Old Minnesota Avenue and St. Julien Street. Computer modeling showed the roundabout will be the superior choice to accommodate increased traffic in the area by 2030, spurred by projected development in the area.
The city will also install a sidewalk on Old Minnesota Avenue between Union and St. Julien streets. It will be only on one side initially, but will likely extend to both sides as development occurs.
Most attendees at the open house appeared to support the project.
Larry Kropinski, who owns the McDonald’s restaurant, said the city is continuing to work with his business to maintain access. He also said he believes the roundabout will work out well.
Kip Lager, owner of the Lagers of St. Peter car dealership, opposed the project at a public hearing during the City Council meeting after the open house. He criticized a traffic projection for Old Minnesota Avenue that shows the road will see nearly a fivefold increase in vehicle traffic by 2030.