MnDOT proposes improvements east of New Prague

Chuck Kajer

Managing Editor

The landscape on the east side of New Prague could see a big change over the next five years, the New Prague Planning and Zoning Commission learned at its meeting Wednesday, Sept. 21.

The commission heard a presentation from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and from Chris Hiniker of Short, Elliot, Hendrickson, the engineering firm contracted by MnDOT to redesign Highway 13/19 from Scott County State Aid Highway 37 to County Road 89 (Redwing Avenue).

Hiniker presented historical data and projections on traffic levels in the area. He said the amount of traffic has doubled in the past 24 years, from 5,000 cars per day in 1978 to about 10,000 in 2002, the most recent data available.

He said there were five different traffic models used to estimate traffic growth. The most conservative of these models estimates 14,500 cars per day in 2030, with the highest estimate 28,000 cars per day. He said the most likely figure, developed by MnDOT District 7, estimated 23,300 cars per day in that stretch of road.

Based on its current design, the two-lane road could handle an average of 15,000 cars per day, Hiniker said. What he and his firm tried to do was to work with the city and develop a plan that addresses growth and is consistent with the city’s goal of keeping Main Street a two-lane highway through town.

Divided highway proposed

A two-lane divided highway is being proposed from a realigned Scott County Road 89/Le Sueur County Road 164, just west of Mahowald Motors, to the intersection with County Road 37. The only crossing point of Hwy. 13/19 between those two intersections would be at Alton Avenue, with CSAH 15 being realigned on Alton and a new Le Sueur CSAH 144.

The county road realignments are still in the discussion phase by their respective counties.

Mark Scheidel, engineer with MnDOT District 7, out of Mankato, said the state has earmarked $1 million for this project in Fiscal Year 2009, but that would only cover about a third of the project. He said Scott and Le Sueur counties and the city would need to work together to find other funding sources. Those sources could include federal safety grants and local funding.

Hiniker said one of the advantages of the two-lane divided highway design was that it would be a straightforward process to expand it to a four-lane divided highway in the future, should it be deemed necessary

In the interim, Scheidel noted that some improvements may be made to the road before construction begins in 2009. Those improvements, such as turn lanes, would be developer-driven. You will see some of this kind of work before the MnDOT project begins.

Scheidel also said that the proposed project would tie in with improvements to the intersection of Highway 13/19 with CSAH 37 (10th Avenue). Traffic signals will be installed at that intersection next year

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