Goodhue County Board approved a grant application to help fund an overpass at Highway 52 and County Road 9 at a meeting Tuesday night.

The board voted unanimously to authorize Public Works to apply for funds from the state's Corridor Investment Management Strategy or CIM program.

The county will spend about $5,000 to hire consulting group HR Green to prepare the application. The county worked with HRG previously on a study that recommended an interchange at the intersection.

"This (project) is something that people are asking for and needing," Commissioner Jim Bryant said. "And this is an avenue to do that."

CIMS is a Minnesota Department of Transportation grant program designed to help fund projects on the state's trunk highway system, said County Engineer Greg Isakson at a Committee of the Whole meeting prior to the vote.

The program awards grants using ranking criteria including benefit-to-cost ratio, local economic impact and how much funding the county will match for the project beyond the minimum contribution of 10 percent.

The maximum CIMS grant for a single project is $10 million.

Isakson said the county does not have an exact cost or design for the interchange, but expects it to be around $8 million.

If the county contributed 15 percent to the project - around $1.5 million - that would bring down the requested total and increase the chances of being approved for a grant, Isakson said.

The need for an interchange arose from the high number of fatal crashes as drivers on County Road 9 are T-boned attempting to pass through Highway 52 south of Cannon Falls.

While the county is working to build an overpass on the site, MnDOT has revealed an interim plan to cease through-traffic and install a U-turn system.

County commissioners voiced concern at a meeting March 19 that MnDOT's plan could exacerbate the intersection problem.

MnDOT will hold a public meeting to get community input regarding the interim plan 5 p.m. April 11 at Urland Church in Cannon Falls.

Applying for grant money shows MnDOT how serious the county is about building an overpass, Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said.

"The people have been waiting and we need to go forward," Bryant said. "This is our best chance."

The county will have until the end of the month to submit the grant application. Selection will be done sometime in May or June.