By Mike Slavik, Dakota County District 1 Commissioner

Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures and seemingly unending snowfalls, Dakota County has been preparing for spring - or as we all call it in Minnesota, the start of road construction season.

Our Transportation Department is gearing up for another busy year of highway projects throughout the county, from minor maintenance to complete reconstructions. In 2019, one of our largest projects is the reconstruction of County Road 42 in Nininger Township. This project, like other similar highway improvements, has been years in the making. While each project is unique in its design and purpose, all share something in common: public input.

Dakota County works hard to ensure residents have multiple opportunities to review project details and provide input during the planning process. Feedback from residents and other community stakeholders is a critical component of the work we do to provide high-quality, cost-effective services for our residents and taxpayers.

This is especially the case with transportation projects. Our Transportation Department develops a public engagement plan for each highway construction project. The engagement plan varies by project, but typically we host two to four public meetings, which usually occur early in the design process and again later in the process. We alert the public, and especially residents who live near a project, to the public meetings to encourage their participation. When appropriate, we schedule small-group and individual meetings with affected property owners, community groups or others with an interest in a project. We also use newsletters to keep residents updated on a project.

Another good source of information about a county highway project is Dakota County's website, www.dakotacounty.us. You can find a specific project by selecting "Transportation" at top right of the homepage and then choosing either "Current Road Construction" or "Planned Road Construction." Each project has its own webpage with a summary, contact information and other useful details. Also, our project manager is available at all times throughout project development to discuss the project with interested residents and other stakeholders. There is a lot of time to review and provide input on a project as the process can take three years from an initial open house to construction.

Our Transportation Department values the input they receive from residents through open houses, stakeholder meetings, online feedback and phone calls. That input helps to shape a project, minimize the impact to motorists and adjacent property owners during construction, and to control project costs.

We encourage you to review and provide your input on Dakota County's highway projects planned for the 2019 construction season and the years ahead.