Combining community input and data from a traffic analysis of the corridor, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) arrived at a preliminary design concept for two intersections on the south side of St. Peter. A project in 2023 will bring dual left turn lanes at the intersection of Hwy. 169/Hwy. 22 and a Restricted Crossing U-Turn (RCUT, also known as a J-Turn) at the intersection of Hwy. 169/Hwy. 99.
Both intersection modifications will improve safety and traffic flow, which were identified as top priorities when gathering input from the city of St. Peter, City Council and the community.
The project will also improve the pavement condition, storm sewer, city water, lighting and sidewalk within the corridor. For more information on the project and to view a recorded presentation further explaining the concept, visit mndot.gov/d7/projects/hwy169-22-99.
At a Jan. 20 City Council work session, MnDOT Project Manager Forrest Hasty spoke to the council about the plan for intersection improvement in 2023. He asked the group to present any problems or concerns at the two intersections.
Representatives returned to the council Feb. 3, this time with four specific concepts for possible improvements at the intersections. The concepts included dual left turn lanes, roundabouts, RCUTs or some combination.
The biggest issue brought up was the left turn from Hwy. 169 south onto Hwy. 22, and the log jam that can sometimes create. Other concerns included the lack of right of way knowledge, specifically at the intersection of 169-99, and speed from vehicles heading away from and toward the 169-22 intersection.
At the Feb. 3 work session, Hasty, along with MnDOT Public Engagement Coordinator Anne Wolff and Nick Ollrich, a MnDOT traffic engineer, presented four concepts that they believe can all work at the intersection. Some were rated better than others.
The council agreed all four concepts could be brought to a future open house for public feedback, though there were a couple that had more positive reactions than others. The concepts were ultimately presented in a virtual public meeting, as the pandemic disrupted normal life in the spring.
Ultimately, MnDOT chose a concept that was well received by the council: Concept D. It is something of a ‘best of both worlds’ concept, keeping cost low while combining the different intersection improvements.
A second left turn lane would be added at Hwy. 22, and it would be a protected left only to 22. The concept also adds an RCUT 169-99.
The big pro of this concept, according to MnDOT, is its ability to address a little of everything. The second left turn lane from southbound 169 to 22 adds safety and can limit queuing problems. The RCUT at 169-99, meanwhile, adds safety for those trying to get from 99 to northbound 169.
A con is travelers needing to go further for that 99 to 169 northbound turn. There is also still the potential concern with bottle up for cars turning left from southbound 169 to 22, as two lanes of traffic enter 22 and it quickly turns to one lane.
More detailed design and cost estimates will now be developed by MnDOT, as the department prepares for 2023 construction. Other than any actions the city chooses to take in alignment with the intersections projects, the cost will go to MnDOT.