MnDOT holds listening sessions, gives details on Highway 19 proposals
MARSHALL — Marshall area residents and businesspeople got a chance to hear more details this week about proposed improvements at four local intersections. The proposals include building a roundabout at the intersection of Country Club Drive and Highway 19, removing a stop light at the intersection of College Drive and Lyon Street, and turn restrictions at two other intersections.
On Tuesday, representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation held conference call sessions about planned reconstruction work on Highway 19 in Marshall. Construction isn’t slated to start until 2025, but because the highway passes through high-traffic areas in town, engineers have a lot to consider.
“Our intention is to really hear” community members’ needs, said MnDOT project manager Gene East. “Outreach to the community is key.”
The listening sessions would help shape plans for some key intersections along the 1.2-mile route of the project. Highway 19 (College Drive) will be rebuilt between South Fourth Street near West Side Elementary, and Bruce Street.
MnDOT currently has a virtual open house for the project available online at https://www.hwy19marshall.com/. A live virtual presentation will also be from 6-7 p.m. July 9.
East went over the details of proposals for the three-way intersection near the Marshall National Guard Armory, and the intersections of Highway 19 and Marvin Schwan Memorial Drive, Lyon Street and Marshall Street.
Based on past community listening sessions, Marshall area residents have a few priorities for updating that part of College Drive, East said. They want to improve travel for vehicles; improve safety in the area; and improve conditions for pedestrians. MnDOT is taking those priorities into consideration in designing the project, he said.
MnDOT is proposing to build a roundabout at the “chicken foot” intersection where Highway 19, Country Club Drive and South Second Street come together, East said. The intersection has traffic coming from multiple directions and bad sight lines — problems a roundabout could help with, he said.
Brad Gruhot, director of the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce, asked if a roundabout would be able to handle truck traffic or large trailers that often travel down Highway 19. East said that was a common question so far.
“Roundabouts are not one size fits all,” East said. The design of a roundabout could take that kind of traffic into account. Part of MnDOT’s outreach for the project has been to businesses like freight haulers, he said.
Two intersections on the route, Marvin Schwan Memorial Drive, and Marshall Street, are being proposed to be right-turn only. The move would help improve both traffic flow and safety on College Drive, East said.
A concrete island would be built on Marvin Schwan Memorial Drive to make left turns onto or off of College Drive impossible. East said the right in/right out intersection would help cut down on the need for long left turn lanes on that part of College Drive.
A raised median in the intersection of College Drive and Marshall Street would make it a right in/right out only intersection. “This is mostly a safety benefit,” East said. The historic bridge near the intersection creates problems with sight lines for traffic trying to cross College Drive.
The final intersection proposal discussed at the listening sessions was a little more controversial. East said MnDOT is proposing to take out the stop light at the intersection of College Drive and Lyon Street, and make it a two-way stop instead.
“Traffic backs up on the signals between Main Street and Lyon Street,” East said. The distance between the two lights is only 275 feet. “That’s a pretty short distance.”
Getting rid of the light at Lyon Street would let traffic keep moving, East said.
However, the proposal drew questions from audience members who were concerned about the safety of pedestrians. Many people use the light at Lyon Street as a way to cross into downtown, instead of waiting at the corner of College and Main, said Ryan Wendland.
East said consolidating crossing points could help improve pedestrian safety. However, in an online poll, audience members at the listening session were less positive. Only two out of a dozen participants said they could support removing the stop lights at Lyon Street.