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Locals weigh in on Hwy. 19

Tuesday meetings gathered feedback before planned 2025 reconstruction

Photo by Deb Gau Gene East spoke to Marshall residents at a Tuesday visioning meeting about Highway 19 in Marshall. Sticky notes with comments and concerns from residents were posted in categories on the white board behind him.

MARSHALL — There’s not a lot that’s settled yet about a planned reconstruction of a section of Minnesota Highway 19 in Marshall, Gene East said.

“It’s in very, very early stages of development,” said East, project manager with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Any actual construction wouldn’t take place until 2025. “We do know that it is a major project, a major reconstruction.”

That was a big reason planners wanted to hear what local residents thought the project should address.

Around 30 people, mainly members of the public, attended a Tuesday night meeting on the planned Highway 19 project. Nikki Farrington, an engineer with Short Elliott Hendrickson and one of the meeting facilitators, estimated a similar-sized crowd attended a stakeholder meeting earlier in the day.

People in attendance at the Tuesday night meeting shared their ideas for what the project should include, as well as concerns about how the construction should be done.

East said Highway 19 project planners were committed to engaging with the public. Getting input at Tuesday’s meetings was an important first step, he said.

The reconstruction would affect Highway 19 from the intersection with South 4th Street, near the National Guard Armory, all the way to the intersection of Bruce Street and East College Drive. While there isn’t a specific plan for the construction yet, meeting leaders said MnDOT will need to consider factors like the roadway, intersections, sidewalks and accessibility, and any drainage or utility improvements along the roadway.

Tuesday’s meetings used a “World Cafe” format, similar to one used at a city of Marshall planning session earlier this year. Residents broke up into small groups to share what they thought a good Highway 19 corridor would look like, and key issues they thought the construction project should address.

The results of the discussions included some shared concerns. Residents said they would like to see a smooth road surface and better traffic flow along Highway 19, which becomes College Drive in Marshall. LED street lighting and room for snow removal and storage were also common suggestions.

Several groups hit on the same issues, like poor visibility near the bridge at the intersection of College Drive and Marshall Street, and the need for traffic controls near True Light Christian School. Some groups suggested bringing back a stoplight that used to be at the intersection of College Drive and Whitney Street in front of the school. Some residents also suggested looking at alternate routes for large truck traffic instead of bringing the trucks through Marshall’s downtown.

Residents were more divided over other suggestions, especially concerning the “chicken foot” intersection — the area near the armory where Country Club Drive, Highway 19 and South Second Street all meet. Some residents thought traffic flow at this intersection could be improved by building a roundabout, while others were strongly against the idea.

Communication about the construction process — including road closures, detours and construction stages — was an important issue across the board for residents. Many said the project should try to keep as much access to homes and businesses as possible.

East said the next step will be for project planners to put together the results of the public feedback meetings. There will also be an opportunity for people to weigh in via an online survey on the MnDOT project website. East said the survey should go live sometime in the next couple of weeks, and will be open for around 10 days.

More information on the project can be found online, at www.dot.state.mn.us/d8/projects/hwy19marshall.

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