Washington County plans to make one of the county’s most dangerous intersections safer next year by turning it into a “muscular” roundabout able to handle heavy truck traffic.
Officials from the county’s Public Works Department and state Department of Transportation briefed the Board of Commissioners on the U.S. Highway 61-County State Aid Highway 4 intersection project in Hugo at a workshop Tuesday. Project plans call for construction of a roundabout at the intersection that will be designed with a larger apron to handle commercial trucks that use both roads.
Other issues with the U.S. 61-CSAH 4 project include temporarily relocating the Hardwood Creek Trail that runs north-south on the west side of U.S. 61 during construction and the county Regional Rail Authority conveying a permanent highway easement over a portion of WCRRA property.
County Senior Planner Ann Pung-Terwedo said the U.S. 61-CSAH 4 intersection has seen 10 crashes that injured 14 people from 2008 to 2010.
“It’s one of the top intersections for accidents,” she said.
Pung-Terwedo said the project goal is providing the greatest safety benefit without reducing the capacity of either road while preserving the Hardwood Creek Trail and possible future transit use.
Although traffic studies showed a 70-30 percent traffic split between the roads, County Engineer Wayne Sandberg said the traffic numbers were “acceptable” for a roundabout.
“We really see traffic on (CSAH) 4 increasing,” he added.
“Highway 61 is becoming heavily traveled. It’s become necessary to make some improvements,” added Commissioner Dennis Hegberg.
Hegberg also inquired about any timetable for MnDOT to turn U.S. 61 over to the county.
“Highway 61 is planned to be returned to the county by the state. At what point do we to four lanes on 61,” he asked.
“There’s no active process to turn that back to the county,” Sandberg replied. “We’re making all decisions with that in mind.”
Pung-Terwedo said the next steps in the project are:
n A three-party agreement between the county, MnDOT and WCRRA that acknowledges issues, planning, multi-modal transportation opportunities, property jurisdiction roundabout planning.
- The WCRRA grants the county a permanent highway easement over WCRRA property.
- MnDOT agrees to take over, via commissioner’s order, the southbound road portion of the roundabout for MnDOT maintenance activities.
- The parties agreeing to cooperate on future intersection reconfiguration if necessary when transit is constructed.
Once all agreements are in place, Pung-Terwedo said planners will finalize detour routes, determine final cost participation, reach a cooperative maintenance pact with Hugo and MnDOT and begin construction in 2013.