What’s the vision for Highway 19?
MARSHALL — Highway reconstructions are scheduled for one of the main roads running through Marshall’s downtown. But that doesn’t mean the design of the project is set in stone yet — and the Minnesota Department of Transportation is asking members of the public what they envision for College Drive.
“Visioning is really the right term,” said Gene East, MnDOT project manager for planned construction on Highway 19 in Marshall. The project is still a few years off, scheduled for 2025. On the other hand, East said, “It’s a really big project,” which would reconstruct the highway between South Fourth Street and Bruce Street.
The affected part of the highway also runs through Marshall’s downtown area as College Drive. It’s unusual for a highway reconstruction project to pass through a downtown or urban area, East said. So, MnDOT is reaching out to the public to get their thoughts on what will be needed in the project.
A pair of meetings will take place at the Marshall-Lyon County Library on Tuesday. East said MnDOT will be using a “World Cafe” style for the event, similar to a public planning meeting the city of Marshall had this summer.
East said MnDOT staff want to know who uses the streets and sidewalks in the project area, and what their needs and future goals are. Groups such as pedestrians and cyclists, as well as motorists, need to be considered, he said.
East said he observed Marshall’s World Cafe event, and thought the format would work well for the Highway 19 visioning process.
“It’s really effective in finding consensus,” East said. At the meetings, members of the public will break up into small informal groups to talk about what they want to see happen to the Highway 19 corridor in Marshall. The meetings will also offer food for participants, and the library will have activities for participants’ children while the adults are meeting.
The first visioning session will run from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the library, while the other will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The 11 a.m. session will require an RSVP, and will be for a more focused group of participants, like city staff and local stakeholders, he said. The 5:30 p.m. session will be open to all members of the public.
In the meantime, MnDOT staff are working on early research for the reconstruction project. East spoke to members of the Marshall City Council on Sept. 24, and at that time he said MnDOT was collecting and analyzing traffic data.