Hwy 19 MNDOT meeting: unhappy citizens?

hwy19 In today’s Northfield News, an article by Andrea Nelson titled Unhappy citizens walk out of Hwy 19 meeting; Officials answer questions on overlay, but not widening.

“Vague” is how one citizen deemed Peter Waskiw’s answers to citizen comments and answers at the Minnesota Department of Transportation Highway 19 open house Tuesday night… Several citizens said they were concerned with the bike traffic and the safety of biking along the corridor, given the rough surface. To this, Waskiw mentioned the re-pavement project planned for Highway 19. In 2010, the existing corridor will undergo a mill and overlay project, where the pavement will be fixed. This will also include striping and determining ways to improve turn lanes. However, Waskiw said, there will be no additional changes to the right-of-way.

Another question citizens raised was when the corridor would be widened. Chris Moates, MnDOT District 6 Planning Director of Transportation, said that this will not happen until at least 2015 and could be as far out as 2023. Many things need to come together before this reconstruction project can take place, including an environmental study that could take a couple of years to complete. “We are very behind in completing major projects in this district,” Moates said. Yet, he said MnDOT has suggested that the city conduct an environmental study beginning in 2009-2010. To this answer many citizens walked out and shortly thereafter the open house abruptly concluded.

I don’t understand. What were people upset about, the content of what they heard or how the meeting was conducted or both?


  1. Robert Hall said:

    I wasn’t aware we built hiways for bicycle traffic. I thoutht they were for vehicles.

    October 8, 2007
  2. Ross Currier said:

    The Planning Commission got an informal update on the Highway 19 meeting last night. A commissioner and a staff member both attended the meeting with MNDoT.

    They did not get the sense that citizens stormed out of the meeting. It was their opinion that people began to leave when they heard that there might not be substantial changes to Highway 19 until 2023.

    The City Engineer was also at the Planning Commission meeting. She said that it appears that MNDoT will redo the surface of 19 in 2009 and that this work would be good for 15 years. Do the math, that’s how we get to 2023.

    It has been a priority for a number of Northfielders for many of years to get 19 upgraded to a four-lane highway. The concern revealed to the Commissioners last night was that by 2023, northern and/or southern routes might take the four-lane place of Highway 19.

    Apparently Council Member Noah Cashman has announced that he will be the man that rolls this big stone up the hill, dramatically changing the projected schedule. If you are interested in supporting his efforts, I would suggest that you contact him and offer your support.

    October 10, 2007
  3. Griff Wigley said:

    Bridgewater Twp supervisor Kathleen Doran-Norton had a letter in last week’s Nfld News:

    At last week’s MnDOT Highway 19 meeting, not all the people leaving early were “unhappy.” Some of us had other meetings to attend that evening. And I did not find the session to be “vague.” Assuming the legislature and the governor can fund next year’s needs, Highway 19 will have a mill and overlay repair in 2009. And part of this project might fix some of the most dangerous intersections using simple solutions like lane striping.

    We also heard that the goal of the safety and access study is to reduce the access points on Highway 19 from 111 to every half mile from I-35 to Decker, and every quarter mile from Decker into Northfield, and that MnDOT will be looking for local input. That’s pretty good for a kick-off meeting. And a blueprint for Northfield, Rice and Dakota counties, and the townships to use for future development in this area is a good outcome. The only thing I found vague were questions about a complete re-routing of Highway 19. Isn’t that a local land use decision rather than a question for MnDOT?

    October 15, 2007
  4. Bill Ostrem said:

    Regarding Mr. Hall’s comment: bicycles are legally allowed to operate as vehicles on all roads except for some freeways. Some states even allow bikes on freeway shoulders, since evidence shows accident rates are low in these situations. This is why nearly all roads can be classified as “shared roadways” – a term used by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and other professional groups – that is, shared by motorized and nonmotorized vehicles.

    I was recently driving on Cedar Avenue between Northfield and Lakeville and saw someone walking on the side of the road. As with many county roads, there is almost no shoulder there. I took this as more evidence that people will use the roadways for walking and biking even in rural areas. In some cases people have few choices but to walk or bike.

    Paved shoulders often make sense, I believe, even if you only consider their benefits for motor vehicles. Here is an interesting web page supporting this statement: “22 Reasons for Paved Highway Shoulders”: http://www.bicyclinglife.com/EffectiveAdvocacy/22reasons.htm

    October 16, 2007
  5. Robert Hall said:

    Thanks Bill for the observation. However, my point was public hiways were designed for the automobile with secondary use for bicyles and walking traffic, unless specfic lanes are designed into the initial plan. You made a good point about bicylcles being operated as vehicles. Apparently what most bike riders don’t get is that they are subject to the same rules of the road as vehicles,( speed limits, signaling turns and observing stop signs) which I rarely see observed here in Northfield and elswhere. Riding bicycles on freeway shoulders sounds interesting. Lets give it a shot between Lyndale ave. and I 94 on 35W. I guess if a person wants to do something they can always come up with a reason to make it sound smart
    Bob Hall

    October 16, 2007
  6. Jerry Bilek said:

    It is true some bikers do not obey traffic laws. It is also true many car drivers do not obey traffic laws. I bike past a stop sign on hwy 22. I have yet to see a car stop there. Never. A minivan missed me by 2 feet on Monday. She was going at least 60 mph, right through the stop sign.

    The stop sign at Maple and Jefferson parkway is considered a rolling stop by most and the cross walk is fair game, pedestrians beware. 5th and division, optional, saw one person run it yesterday, another rolled through it on her cell phone. She stopped when she realized she was going to hit me. waved and kept talking.

    Education and enforcement are the answers. Cyclists are not the only problem, there are lots of bad drivers, many on cell phones.

    October 17, 2007
  7. Bill Ostrem said:

    Bob, I acknowledge that roads in this country are built primarily for motor vehicles, which constitute the vast majority of the traffic in most places. But roads are also public right of ways (an acceptable plural according to my dictionary) that can accommodate a variety of types of traffic, and taxpayers who do not want to drive everywhere or do not own a car want to have options for getting around. As a society we may not want to invest in shoulders on roads in rural areas, but I believe we’d do well to at least put in walkways and bikeways in urban areas.

    That is why people are talking about a national (global?) “complete streets” movement. Here is Chicago’s “complete streets” policy, created a year ago:

    “The safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, freight, and motor vehicle drivers shall be accommodated and balanced in all types of transportation and development projects and through all phases of a project so that even the most vulnerable – children, elderly, and persons with disabilities – can travel safely within the public right of way.” (http://www.thunderheadalliance.org/completestreets.htm)

    I agree that cyclist behavior is often abysmal when it comes to following the traffic laws. As Jerry says, education and enforcement are key. While we have invested heavily in driver education as a society, we’ve done a poor job of educating cyclists; we put few resources into this and its shows in cyclist behavior. Our Task Force on Nonmotorized Transportation had better get moving on the enforcement and education issues.

    Interestingly enough, because bicycles were invented earlier (ca. 1860 in France, I believe), many roads were improved for the use of bicycles well before autos were invented. First the stagecoach and then the bicycle paved the way for the automobile. Now, with global warming, high energy prices, and obesity and diabetes epidemics, we are taking a closer look at the bicycle again.

    October 19, 2007

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