Hwy 59 underpass?
With consulting firm HR Green leaning toward an underpass option, and the residents most affected by the frontage road extension agreeing, it is more than likely the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be looking into putting an underpass...
With consulting firm HR Green leaning toward an underpass option, and the residents most affected by the frontage road extension agreeing, it is more than likely the Minnesota Department of Transportation will be looking into putting an underpass under Highway 59 South, bringing traffic and pedestrians from downtown Detroit Lakes to the big box retail area without having to get on Highway 10.
Jack Broz of HR Green was hired by MnDOT to develop a transportation study to include eight areas: Wine Lake Road, north of the railroad tracks; Highway 10 west of town and frontage road; Highway 59; Airport Road; a connection between Highway 10 and County Road 6; the future of County Road 6; the Washington Avenue and Highway 34 intersection; and the County Road 22 and Highway 59 intersection, near the golf course.
"It's about community planning, if this is a good answer for the community or not," he said.
That is the big picture. But, Broz was in Detroit Lakes Tuesday evening to discuss a smaller portion of the picture - a frontage road to carry vehicle and pedestrian traffic safely west of town. Safely being the key word.
Broz brought several options for crossing Highway 59 to extend the frontage road, but one was the clear favorite of the consulting firm - based on their safety analysis - and those in the audience Tuesday evening.
The favored option includes an underpass under Highway 59 south, just south of the gas station on the west side of Highway 59. The frontage road would run along Holmes and a new street would connect Holmes Street, under Highway 59 and connect near where Morrow Street runs by the gas station and Perkins. The frontage road would follow Morrow Street to a frontage road that would then run along Highway 10, similar to the way the new frontage road was built east of town. The frontage road would also limit access points to Highway 10, another goal MnDOT would like to accomplish.
By creating the Holmes Street extension, which would have access points from Main Street, there wouldn't be any adjacent property affected.
Of course, opening up Holmes Street all the way to the big box retail area will increase traffic, but Broz said it won't be more than what Willow Street sees now.
Other options included an underpass further north under Highway 59, connecting to Main Street; a frontage road down Highway 59 south and then a crossing of Highway 59 at the bottom of the hill, more toward L & M Fleet; or just a sidewalk being built along the existing Highway 10.
Any kind of entrance from the south of the Menards property was ruled out early on due to the wetlands in the area. Broz said every possible environmental agency told them no, not going to happen.
A sidewalk along the existing Highway 10 was also ruled out because of the cost of widening the bridge and roadway along the highway. Plus, it didn't meet the safely goals the state was trying to accomplish.
Crossing Highway 59 further south than the existing Main Street/Morrow Street crossing is feasible, Broz said, but still isn't safe because pedestrians, bikes and those in wheelchairs would still be crossing Highway 59 traffic.
As for funding of the project, MnDOT's Shiloh Wahl said MnDOT has secured funds in 2014 for a Highway 10 project that will include the frontage road and urbanizing the highway like it was east of town, and he said MnDOT would like to tie in the Highway 59 project at the same time, if funding would be available. If not, it would likely be done in two phases and the underpass done maybe five more years down the road.
"We're not shooting for the stars here," he said of the 2014 funding.
Detroit Lakes City Administrator Bob Louiseau said with the Holmes Street extension option, "I don't see anything in this that would lead us to start assessing" when asked what those in the area would be assessed for the street project. Louiseau added that because the newly created street didn't have houses along it, the neighborhood wouldn't be assessed.
One other concern was the fact that trains stop on the Soo Line railroad several times a day for long periods of time. Louiseau said the city will work with the railroad to get trains to stop farther back on the tracks, freeing up the crossings.
MnDOT will be hosting a meeting next month to show the public its recommendations for all eight substations of the study.
For more information on the project or to submit comments on the project, visit the MnDOT website.