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Pedestrian improvements to be part of Hwy. 19 project

MARSHALL — A major construction project planned for Highway 19 in Marshall could also include several improvements geared toward making it safer to cross the road.

Representatives of the Minnesota Department of Transportation went through some of the details of the project, scheduled for 2025, with the Marshall City Council on Tuesday.

MnDOT is also taking public feedback on the proposals through a virtual open house event and meetings with local businesspeople.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, MnDOT project manager Jesse Vlaminck walked council members through a proposed layout for reconstructing Highway 19 (College Drive) between South Fourth Street and Bruce Street. Some of the planned changes to the roadway include bump-outs at several intersections and medians to help people trying to cross College Drive.

Those changes would be in addition to some of the safety improvements MnDOT recommended earlier this fall. The recommendations included replacing the three-way intersection of College Drive, Country Club Drive and South Second Street with a roundabout, turning the College Drive/Lyon Street intersection into a two-way stop, and making the intersections at Marvin Schwan Memorial Drive and Marshall Street right turn-only.

Vlaminck said building bump-outs to the sidewalk and curb at key intersections would make streets narrower and easier to cross at crosswalks. Plus, the bump-outs would help make pedestrians easier to see. He said MnDOT is recommending bump-outs be added at the intersection of College Drive and South Fourth Street, as well as the Greeley, Saratoga, Main, Lyon and Marshall Street intersections.

To better serve pedestrians, MnDOT was also recommending a crosswalk and median on College Drive near the Lyon Street intersection. The median could serve as a “refuge” for pedestrians, giving them a spot to pause out of traffic while crossing the street. The crossing at Lyon Street would have a flashing beacon to warn drivers about pedestrians, he said.

Two other medians are also being proposed for pedestrian refuges, Vlaminck said. One would be built along the curve near Liberty Park, where it would provide a refuge for people trying to cross College Drive at Third Street and Park Avenue. Another median and pedestrian beacon would go in front of True Light Christian School, near the High Street intersection.

Earlier this fall, MnDOT marked a temporary median in front of True Light as a demonstration, and asked the public to complete surveys on what they thought of the measure. Presenter Lindsey Bruer said a little under half of respondents said they did not support a permanent version of the median as pedestrians, or as drivers. However, most survey respondents also said they didn’t use the medians, Bruer said.

“There was some concern about losing the left turn lane onto High Street,” Bruer said. “And then we did hear a lot of concerns about snow removal.”

Over the past year, MnDOT has held several public meetings to get the community’s feedback on the proposed construction. While COVID-19 precautions mean there won’t be any more in-person meetings in the near future, MnDOT said Wednesday that it is offering a virtual open house on the Highway 19 project.

A link to the proposed project layout is available online at www.dot.state.mn.us/d8/projects/hwy19marshall/index.html. Members of the public can also leave their feedback on the site. MnDOT is also planning to host listening sessions with the Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce on Nov. 17 and 18.

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