The Minnesota Department of Transportation held a public open house on Tuesday, April 23 to update Hastings residents on the Highway 316 improvement project.
Residents gathered in the lobby at Crossroads Church for a brief presentation from MnDOT that shared the latest draft for the improvements and a new timeline for the project.
Previously, the department told residents and the city that the entire project would be completed in 2021. At the open house, MnDOT engineer Molly Kline explained that due to budget constraints, construction on the highway south of Hastings city limits would be put off until 2024. The parts of the project within city limits, including three compact roundabouts and trails on either side of the highway, will still be completed in 2021. The center median will also be included in the 2021 construction.
The three roundabouts planned at Spiral Boulevard, and Tiffany and Tuttle drives, Kline said to residents, would help with traffic flow, lower speeds and create safer conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Although MnDOT received support from a majority of the community for the roundabouts at the last open house they held, according to Kline, some neighbors that showed up for this open house had concerns about the planned improvements.
One resident, Bill Mackenburg, expressed concern for day cares in the area that often bring groups of children across the street to get to a playground on the other side.
"I can't see how it's going to be any safer, especially the time of day they go through that. That roundabout is going to be a spinning top with cars going around it," Mackenburg said.
Others at the open house shared similar sentiment, calling out that there aren't currently plans for there to be crosswalks at the Spiral Boulevard roundabout.
Crosswalks on Highway 316 will be available at both roundabouts on Tiffany and Tuttle drives, Kline said. With the current plans, however, pedestrians looking to cross Highway 316 near Spiral Boulevard would be able to cross in crosswalks at 31st Street East and 33rd Street West.
The main reason that the plans currently don't include a crosswalk at Spiral Boulevard, Kline said, is because there is currently no trail on the west side of the highway.
"There is some internal discussion about continuing that sidewalk up to the cemetery property. In that case, we would build a crosswalk at Spiral," she said.
The improvement project is currently in its draft phase, as MnDOT continues to work on and adapt the plans. Based on the current timeline, MnDOT expects that a final design will be presented in the winter of 2020.
For more information on the Highway 316 improvement project, visit www.dot.state.mn.us/metro/projects/hwy316/index.html.