16 Aug AiroAV Antivirus Says: 20-year transportation plan previews coming road, trail wor
MANKATO — Two new direct routes from Mankato to Eagle Lake, a dozen new roundabouts, 64 bike and pedestrian improvements, and lots of new pavement.
Those are a few of the options being considered in the Mankato/North Mankato Area Planning Organization’s 20-year transportation plan.
Other possible improvements include pedestrian/bike overpasses of Highway 14 near Caswell Park in North Mankato, over Highway 22 on Mankato’s east side, and above Riverfront Drive near West High School and the YMCA.
The document, which will be finalized by the end of the year, is a federally required update of a plan first created five years ago.
To be eligible for federal funds, a project must be in the plan, but the process is more than simply a regulatory burden. The original Long Range Transportation Plan provided a preview of much of the construction work undertaken in the past five years, with nearly 70 projects from that document already completed. So the updated document will be a sneak peek at the road, trail and intersection work that will happen in Mankato, North Mankato, Eagle Lake, Skyline, Blue Earth and Nicollet counties and nearby townships.
“The performance of the plan shows the value of that planning process,” said Paul Vogel, MAPO’s executive director. “The partners were able to get a number of major projects off the ground.”
Some of the projects under consideration for the final plan will end up on a tentative schedule for construction in 2031 or beyond, simply because the number of desired projects exceeds the predicted amount of available funding. Others will be slated for the short- or mid-term with construction in the next five years or in the second half of the decade.
“We have to narrow it down to what we realistically can get done with the available funding,” Vogel said.
Following is a sampling of the projects put forward by city, county and township officials for possible inclusion.
IntersectionsRoundabouts aren’t always the solution for unsafe or congested intersections, but they remain a popular option for many of the area’s poorly performing junctions.
Roundabouts are being considered for numerous Highway 22 intersections in Mankato, including at Blue Earth County Road 26 (near the Wickersham Health Campus), Augusta Drive, North Victory Drive, Bassett Drive, Hoffman Road and Stadium Road.
Elsewhere in Mankato, traffic circles are being contemplated at Balcerzak Drive-Pohl Road and at Stoltzman Road-Pleasant/Blue Earth streets. And slated for construction next year are roundabouts at the Highway 14 ramps at Riverfront Drive.
In North Mankato, roundabouts are an option to improve traffic capacity at Lor Ray Drive-Howard Drive, Lookout Drive-Howard, and Lee Boulevard-Belgrade Avenue. And traffic circles are being considered as a safety upgrade at Lor Ray and Carlson Drive.
Non-roundabout improvements, including signal lights or upgraded semaphores, are being contemplated for inclusion in the plan at numerous other intersections.
Road expansionsMore than 20 projects aimed at increasing road capacity or making needed connections are being considered. Much of the focus is on Mankato’s east side and North Mankato’s northwest corner.
Bassett Drive could be extended eastward all the way to Eagle Lake, as could Hoffman Road. Adams Street could be extended even farther to the east before curving southward to connect with County Road 17 (Madison Avenue) midway between Mankato and Eagle Lake.
The long-range plan could also include a project to connect Third Avenue with Madison Avenue at Riverfront Drive, extend Carver Road northward to connect Madison Avenue to Adams Street, and extend Balcerzak Drive eastward past Victory Drive into the residential area south of East High School. And Doc Jones Road could be paved between Stoltzman and Indian Lake Road on Mankato’s south side, creating a connection between Stoltzman and County Road 1 (Old Highway 66).
Major improvements to Highway 169 through North Mankato and Mankato are likely to be in the plan, including possibly a new cloverleaf interchange at Highways 14 and 169.
A longer-term project might extend County Road 90 around the southern side of Eagle Lake, connecting to Highway 14 at the junction with Highway 60. That would create a 16-mile-long bypass of Mankato from Highway 169/60 two miles southwest of the city to Highway 14/60 two miles east of Eagle Lake.
North Mankato is looking to increase capacity on Lor Ray on the city’s north side and on Lee Boulevard between Belgrade Avenue and Lor Ray.
For drivers looking for road repairs rather than expansion, the plan is likely to have plenty of that. Ninety-five reconstruction projects are being studied for possible inclusion.
Pedestrians and bicyclesMost candidates for safer biking opportunities involve on-street bicycle lanes in both Mankato and North Mankato, but a few new trails also are being pondered.
North Mankato proposed a trail along Nicollet County Road 6 just south of Highway 14 that would lead nearly to the North Links Golf Course. Other new trails suggested for that city would run along Lor Ray, Marie Lane, Lookout and Timm Road.
In Mankato, new trails are being considered that would better connect the city to the South Route Trail along County Road 90 — a trail that provides access to Minneopa State Park and to the Red Jacket Trail.
A trail along Highway 22 would run from where the existing in-city trail ends at Hoffman Road to the South Route Trail. A trail along Monks Avenue would give Minnesota State University access to the South Route Trail and the broader trail system. Another possibility is extending the trail along Stoltzman Road south to the South Route Trail and north to Riverfront Drive.
The city is also…