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County asks for public input on Highway 52 interchange idea

RED WING - The Minnesota Department of Transportation and Goodhue County Public Works Department have a stone in hand, and they're ready to kill two birds.

While MnDOT aims to eliminate all access points along Highway 52, it is also working beside Goodhue County to reduce accidents and fatalities at some dangerous intersections along the same route.

With a handful of different options available to accomplish that task, a project management team held a meeting Tuesday night to gather community input.

"We want to get the public's opinion," Public Works Director Greg Isakson said.

The intersections in question are County Road 1 and County Road 9 at Highway 52. The project management team's goal is to enhance safety, mobility and connectivity while maximizing cost effectiveness and minimizing social, economic and environmental impacts.

To do that, team members created seven alternatives for interchanges either at County Road 1, at County Road 9 or located in between the two.

The first features a partial cloverleaf at County Road 1, which would cause several nearby driveways to close.

"MnDOT has what they call an influence area," Isakson said, explaining how the state doesn't allow many access points near interchanges.

The second alternative is a diamond at County Road 1, which closes the same amount of driveways but impacts a smaller amount of farmland than a partial cloverleaf would.

Another alternative takes the diamond approach but brings it between the two intersections, rerouting both County Road 1 and County Road 9 traffic.

Slightly tweaked, an additional option offers the same concept, but with frontage roads.

"It would be more convenient for everybody but it would be more expensive," Isakson said.

A higher cost idea involves a split diamond at both County Road 1 and County Road 9, though the price tag makes it less favorable to the project management team. The split diamond could be done with or without frontage roads.

Drawing the most attention so far is the final alternative of a diamond at County Road 9.

"It seemed like generally they gravitated towards 9. It seems to be the most logical and accepted," Public Works Deputy Director Ken Bjornstad said of citizens at Tuesday's meeting. He added that those directly impacted by it brought up a few issues but the general consensus was positive.

The same option was favored by Goodhue County Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel earlier on Tuesday when Isakson presented the information at a County Board meeting.

"That looks like a natural spot for an interchange," Rechtzigel said of County Road 9.

After seeing the different scenarios available, the board asked Isakson about other possibilities such using a roundabout.

Although an at-grade roundabout wouldn't likely get approved by MnDOT, Isakson said it could be something to consider for at the top of an interchange.

"Once we decide which location we want it at we can start looking at those fine details."