Hwy 169 map

An in-depth study of the Highway 169 corridor through Mankato, North Mankato and South Bend Township is nearing completion.

A long struggle to develop a long-term vision for Highway 169 through Mankato is nearing its end.

The public will get its last chance starting Thursday to weigh in on the Highway 169 Corridor Study before it’s wrapped up later this year. The final report will summarize what has been learned over two years about options for making the highway safer, more efficient and more usable by bikers and walkers.

The work — which covers everything from the Highway 14-Highway 169 interchange, the possibility of consolidating intersections from Webster Avenue to Lind Street, improvements at Riverfront Drive near West High School, safety upgrades in South Bend Township and more — was a joint state and local effort. The transformation of the nine-mile segment is expected to happen in stages over the next decade or two.

“Construction and improvements along the corridor will definitely be a piece-by-piece process,” said Charles Androsky, a transportation planner for the Mankato-North Mankato Area Planning Organization.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is tentatively planning to spend as much as $57 million along the corridor in the next six years and $100 million might be invested sometime after 2030 on improvements to the Highway 14 bridge over the Minnesota River and the nearby interchange with Highway 169.

MAPO and MnDOT are overseeing the study, which came about only after a quarter-century of disputes about the range of options that would be considered in the business district along Highway 169 that crosses the borders of both cities.

Major changes have been examined and rated, and both the public and adjacent businesses have weighed in. An online meeting scheduled for 5-6:30 p.m. Thursday aims to generate more public input on the “recommended long-term vision and implementation plan,” according to a MnDOT announcement.

When that final report is completed, it is expected to guide future improvements, although MnDOT and its city and county partners will also need to consider budgets, right-of-way issues, changes in traffic patterns and more in approving specific designs, Androsky said.

People can register for the online meeting at hwy169corridorstudy.com. The recommendations will also be revealed at that website starting Thursday.

The public can offer comments starting then and continuing through Oct. 28. Those without internet access can drop off written comments in the drop box outside Mankato’s Intergovernmental Center or mail them to MAPO at the Intergovernmental Center, 10 Civic Center Plaza, Mankato, MN 56001.

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