The Northfield City Council is being presented with several options for the planned roundabout at the intersection of Jefferson Parkway and Minnesota Highway 246.
The first option includes two underpasses and a $2.97 million price tag. The second alternative would cost $3.32 million and include four underpasses. The third, $3.36 million option includes the presence of underpasses that would go to the center of the roundabout, and the fourth alternative, featuring only above-grade crossings, is $1.9 million.
The preferred option is expected to be selected in early September.
The city says the intersection of Jefferson Parkway and Minnesota Highway 246 has operational issues causing lengthy backups and delays at peak traffic hours. The city says there is a lack of pedestrian crossings and infrastructure, making accessibility to schools difficult.
Part of the goal of the project is to alleviate that congestion and improve vehicle, pedestrian and bike access to and from Northfield Middle and High schools.
With the high cost of including underpasses, Councilor Brad Ness asked if that cost would be added on top of projects or would result in the pushing off of other work.
Northfield City Administrator Ben Martig replied that the extra cost would not result in other project delays.
Councilor Jessica Peterson White said the underpass needs to look inviting for users and requested they be wider than 14 feet.
Councilor Suzie Nakasian asked if the high school could be a design/financial partner due to the impact the project will have on the district.
Fellow Councilor David DeLong said it would be “confusing” to have pedestrian crossings and at-grade crossings. He suggested an either/or approach to the plan.
In 2016, the city approved an intersection control evaluation and traffic impact analysis for the proposed project. The City Council adopted the roundabout concept as the preferred option.
In 2017-18, the city was awarded $483,480 from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s Local Partnership Program and $900,000 from MnDOT’s Local Road Improvement Program.
Earlier this year, the council adopted the option for the Mill Towns Trail route to follow Jefferson Parkway on the south side of the city, connecting city schools and parks. The route heads east along Jefferson Parkway past Highway 246 and the city’s soccer fields and just past Prairie Creek Drive. It then heads north, eventually running parallel along Spring Creek Road on its journey to Highway 47.
Construction is expected to begin next year.
According to the presentation to the council, the roundabout option is seen as the best for traffic flow and has been shown to cause fewer and less-severe crashes.
According to statistics presented to the council, roundabouts result in fewer severe crashes and overall crashes.