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Highway 89 Urban Design Study nears completion


By Ben Johnston  Story Ideas? Email ben@roseaustar.com

Houston Engineering is nearing completion of a feasibility study for design changes to Highway 89 from Highway 11 to Seventh St. SW.

The study was contracted by the city council in order to find potential changes that the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) would seek, and to use in a search for funding sources to convert the highway section from a rural design to urban design.

Community Development Coordinator Todd Peterson said using Houston Engineering was the most cost effective for what they were looking for.

“We contracted Houston engineering to see what could be achieved in terms of safety, efficiency, aesthetics and storm water management to be able to justify a state interest in doing this project,” Peterson said.

The changes would mean the conversion from a ditch system to curb and gutter, the realignment of highway access roads towards regular intersections and potential different intersection treatments at Sixth St. and Center St. — including the possibility of roundabouts. The goal would be to make it a corridor that matches the development that has taken place around it.

The project has been listed as a local request with MNDOT for more than 20 years. The current district engineer and previous interim engineer have shown a renewed support for the project. Once the study is completed it will be provided to MNDOT who will lead the search for project funding outside of the regular Statewide Transportation Improvements Program (STIP).

Peterson said design can’t start until funding is secured.

“At that point the processes would start over in terms of design,” he said. “(MNDOT) would then do a more intensive study of the corridor and again, look at the design elements, and all of those sorts of things, at a much deeper level then what’s been done here.”

This study is just the beginning of a much longer process.

“It would be, probably, years, even in the best case scenario, before anything started to happen,” Peterson said.

The preliminary feasibility study is expected to be completed in May.

Last modified: 04/17/2019

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