5/9/2013 10:39:00 AM MnDOT upgrades Hwy. 52, County 9 intersection plans
by Paul Martin
MnDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) has gone some way to answer local objections to its controversial plans to improve the dangerous junction of Hwys 52 and 9 between Cannon Falls and Zumbrota, Goodhue County Public Works Director Greg Isakson told the County Board at its May 7th meeting. The Board was making its annual visit to the Kenyon City Hall, attended by Board Chair Dan Rechtzigel's civics students from Kenyon-Wanamingo High School.
MnDOT intends to prevent traffic on Hwy 9 crossing directly across Hwy 52. Instead, those driving in both directions will turn right, then do a U-turn before turning off onto Hwy 9 to continue their journey.
"Their plan now includes taking care of the rolling hills that hamper visibility on Hwy 52 south of the junction," said Isakson. "They are also planning longer merge lanes, which should help drivers of semis and farm traffic." Another upgrade is a new U-turn lane for eastbound traffic, so that drivers coming from Dennison will not have to go all the way to 100th Avenue before turning to come back north. The Board welcomed those changes, but remain committed to the need for an overpass.
Isakson reported that the County's application for 80% funding for an overpass from a new State highway improvement fund has been submitted. "The changes in MnDOT's project have affected the cost of our overpass proposal. The estimate is now about $10 million, making our share about $2 million. We should know about the end of June whether we have made the list," he said.
Legislators Supportive, but can't Find more Money
Asked by Commissioners if there was any sign of support from our legislators, Isakson said they were supportive, but did not hold out hope of finding any more money. As for the new Hwy 52 project south of Cannon Falls, in response to Commissioner Rich Samuelson, who believes local businesses need the second overpass near the Cannonball, as shown in the original plans, Isakson also said there has been no better response about funding that. Work on the main junction will start July 8th.
Contracts were awarded for this summer's county projects. They include replacement of an old bridge in Warsaw Township, and paving the new Hwy 168 between Hwy 60 and Hwy 52 in Zumbrota. Major resurfacing projects are slated for 5.3 miles of Hwy 9 between Dennison and Sogn; 1.4 miles of Hwy 10 going east from Zumbrota to Hwy 48; and 2 miles of Hwy 53 running south from Hwy 61 at the west end of Red Wing.
No to Little Cannon
The Board debated whether to allow the building of 12 houses on 147 acres of land west of Cannon Falls on Hwy 24. The property lays in Stanton Township, just west of Peterson Turkey Farms and Ferndale Market. Owner Jeff Griffin and his business, Greater SW Holdings of Kasson, MN, have been trying to develop the land for some years.
The County's Planning Advisory Commission (PAC) had voted to deny permission. Their reasoning, which was echoed by the City of Cannon Falls, was that the land falls within Cannon Falls' urban growth area. As provided for in the County's comprehensive plan, it should not therefore be developed on its own, but in a way coordinated with providing proper municipal services. The new Hwy 52 overpass may speed development of the whole area once complete.
Rechtzigel pointed out that another concern of the PAC was the land's location next to the Peterson Turkey Farm, an established business which was recently allowed to expand its operations.
Stanton Township is in favor of Griffin's plans, believing it represents the best chance at development which will enhance their tax base without being too out of character in the rural township. In a letter to the Board, Griffin said he had gone to the City first, because they had the right to annex for suitable development. Since they had declined to do so, "the City has in effect given up its right to regulate and/or comment and/or interfere with the Township proceedings," he stated.
His plans are to install waste water provision to city standards, ready to be hooked up easily to city services if and when these are extended along Hwy 24. The Board voted 4 to 0 to deny a permit. Samuelson, who represents the area, noted, "I will vote to deny because this area will eventually need city services. This is not a good long-term plan."
Business to Expand
The Von Knobelsdorff family was given permission to expand their electrical business on 370th St. in Belvidere Township. The business largely serves agribusiness, and is therefore an approved use in a farming area.
The Board allowed the City of Kenyon to acquire some forfeited land for use as a future park. They also approved the sale of the old Hader communications tower on Hwy 52 to Whitewater Communications of Rochester, MN, for use as a cellular communications tower. Whitewater is happy to accept the condition that they will negotiate to allow access to the tower for amateur radio signals, which the Board considers a major public safety benefit.
County e-mail policy was changed. All e-mail correspondence will now be kept for at least 36 months, instead of 12. Commissioners will be provided with county e-mail addresses, and are asked to route all County-related correspondence through that box, so the County can archive it.