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Byron ready to negotiate sale of land outside future Highway 14 route

Former driving range site will become the pathway for U.S. Highway 14.

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The sign for Links of Byron still stands Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, along U.S. Highway 14 near its intersection with Olmsted County Road 5 in Byron. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Joe Ahlquist
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BYRON — A piece of land purchased by the city of Byron earlier this year will become the new route for U.S. Highway 14 at some point.

However, a business has offered to purchase a 10.48-acre piece of the 37.56-acre parcel that was previously a golf course and driving range along the south side of Highway 14 near the intersection at Olmsted County Road 5.

Last week the Byron City Council created a committee including City Administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft and members of the public works department to negotiate the sale.

RELATED: Highway 14 — the new open road

According to a map sent to council members, the 10.48 acres would be on the south side of the path of the proposed new highway route.

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Mike Dougherty, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation District 6, said the Highway 14 corridor study done by Olmsted County, Dodge County, and the cities of Byron, Kasson and Rochester is calls for an interchange at County Road 5. However, the study noted that the current path of Highway 14 through Byron would not allow for an interchange at that location, so MnDOT will need to move the highway to the south to make room for the on- and off-ramps.

"The corridor study that Olmsted County led helped clarify and prioritize where interchanges could eventually go," Dougherty said. "How it fits, how they make it work hasn’t been addressed yet at that intersection."

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The sign for Links of Byron still stands Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, along U.S. Highway 14 near its intersection with Olmsted County Road 5 in Byron. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
Joe Ahlquist

Dougherty did say, however, that MnDOT agreed with the recommendations, and one of those recommendations would be to move Highway 14 to accommodate an interchange at County Road 5.

In April, the city of Byron purchased the 37.56-acre plot from the estate of Ronald Flanagan for $600,000.

The city hopes to hand over a portion of the land to MnDOT when the state agency eventually decides to add interchanges to Byron on Highway 14. The corridor study indicates interchanges would go at County Road 5 at the west side of Byron and Olmsted County Road 3 at the east end. The intersection at 10th Avenue would be replaced with an overpass.

Dougherty said one of the purposes of the corridor study is to show the intended land needs of any MnDOT project along Highway 14 through town, so businesses would know not to pursue purchase of land that could eventually be sought as right-of-way for the road project.

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The 10.48-acre plot would be outside that right-of-way.

Dougherty said that while the corridor study has been completed and calls for repaving and re-engineering the highway between Kasson and Rochester, the project is not yet on any MnDOT or state funding lists. That could change soon as MnDOT will likely add the corridor to future funding requests. Though when the state and/or federal governments might agree to fund such a project is unknown.

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A proposed interchange at U.S. Highway 14 and Olmsted County Road 5 would require moving the path of Highway 14 south to accommodate the space for on- and off-ramps. Courtesy City of Byron

One of the reasons a change in this section of Highway 14 is sought is because of the number of serious crashes along that stretch of road.

While waiting for funds to build interchanges and reroute Highway 14 in Byron, MnDOT is planning to make some changes to Highway 14 next summer, Dougherty said. For example, median crossings will be eliminated at County Road 3, 60th Street/Olmsted County Road 44, and at Seventh Avenue. At the first two intersections, J-turns – otherwise known as reduced conflict intersections – will be installed to allow traffic to cross and return in the opposite direction.

"We need shorter-term safety measures that come with a low cost," Dougherty said. "Serious injury and fatal crashes typically occur when someone is trying to cross at those county roads."

Brian Todd is the news editor at the Post Bulletin. When not at work, he spends time with his family, roots for the Houston Astros and watches his miniature dachshund sleep, which is why that dog is more bratwurst than hotdog. Readers can reach Brian at 507-285-7715 or btodd@postbulletin.com.
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