Work on Highway 52 southbound is scheduled to begin in autumn 2021 and be completed in 2023. While the Minnesota Department of Transportation works on the highway, Goodhue County plans to implement two other projects: a park and ride in Hader and the realignment of County Road 14.
The county will be responsible for the cost of the park and ride and the realignment of County Road 14, along with 15% of the cost to update the Hader interchange, which is about 4.5 miles north of Wanamingo.
The three projects are estimated to cost the county less than $5 million, which is more than $1 million lower than what the county had estimated.
Goodhue County Public Works Director Greg Isakson brought the park and ride proposal to the County Board for approval Tuesday, Dec. 1. He explained that a park and ride came up during public meetings when the Highway 52 project was being discussed.
“We do allow people to park on County Road 8 right now, just outside of 52, so a park and ride lot would be replacing the existing parking that we’ve been allowing over there,” Isakson said. He added, “They save people a lot of fuel, reduce the traffic on the highways and the larger metro areas by allowing people to carpool.”
Metro areas including Rochester currently have buses that pick people up from stops outside of the city. This helps to alleviate parking congestion, especially around the Mayo Clinic complex.
According to Isakson, “The assumption is that this location would probably be serviced by one of those buses in the future and will be designed to allow buses to come in and pick up people who use it as a park and ride location.”
The construction of the park and ride is estimated to cost the county $200,000 and is included in the $5 million project cost. The county will be responsible for snow removal in the parking lot.
“I don’t think you’re ever going to find a better opportunity as far as getting this park and ride lot built than when you throw it in with a multi-million regrading of a trunk highway,” Isakson said.
The board approved the project on a 4-1 vote; Commissioner Jason Majerus voted no.
County Road 14
While the board did not vote on County Road 14’s realignment on Tuesday, commissioners discussed it.
The proposal is to reroute the road so that instead of connecting to Highway 52 it runs through Cannon Falls.
Majerus voiced his opposition to the project saying, “I have a big issue with that when we have other highways that are deteriorating. We’re taking all this money to cut that road off, which isn’t required by MnDOT.”
Commissioner Brad Anderson noted that the realignment of County Road 14 has been planned for numerous years.
“This has been a part of the long-range plan for Highway 52 for 15 years. It’s been presented to us that when the time arrives we should seize the opportunity. And we did decide to put it into this project a while ago and whether you believe we had an option or not, that’s fine. But we have this opportunity to put it in and I sure as heck wouldn’t back out of it," he said.
Isakson added that the roundabouts constructed in Cannon Falls were built in part for the eventual rerouting of 14.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation began designing improvements for Highway 52 southbound in 2018. The project is projected to start roughly two miles south of Cannon Falls and end two miles north of Zumbrota.