Roundabout coming to dangerous Eyota intersection
EYOTA — The Minnesota Department of Transportation has decided that the intersection of Minnesota Highway 42 and U.S. Highway 14 needs a change. And that change will come in the form of a roundabout no later than 2016.
Jeffrey Vlaminck, district engineer for MnDOT in southeastern Minnesota, said a combination of past study of the intersection and public opinion has spurred the state to change the hazardous crossroads.
"It's something we've had on our radar," Vlaminck said. "If we can get something done now, we should."
"Now" doesn't mean the state will be hauling dirt anytime soon, he said. First, the state needs to hire a consultant to help in construction planning. Then it is likely land bordering the intersection will need to be purchased to accommodate the circular roadway.
Still, many in the community welcome the change. Several emotional meetings have been held to discuss the intersection, and MnDOT has made interim changes, such as flashing stop signs and rumble strips on Highway 42. Those changes came after a rash of accidents within the past two years.
Eyota Mayor Tyrel Clark, who lives near the intersection and said he all too often hears fire trucks and ambulances converge on the scene, said that while some residents at a recent community meeting questioned whether a roundabout was the best solution, most realize it will be a way to both slow traffic down and keep it moving.
"It is something I fully support," Clark said.
After a community meeting last spring, Clark said it seemed state officials were all on board for improving safety at the intersection.
"We had a town hall meeting with (state senator) Carla Nelson, MnDOT and folks from the city and county," Clark said. "It was basically to see where everybody was, and MnDOT appeared to be motivated to find a solution."
While an exact cost figure on the roundabout won't be available until engineers have made detailed construction plans, Vlaminck said the roundabout would be similar to the one at 75th Street and State Highway 63 north of Rochester. That project cost about $3 million.
Vlaminck said the funding for the roundabout will come mostly from federal Highway Safety Improvement Program money and some state funds set aside for safety programs in the local MnDOT district.
While some initial evaluation of the site had been done in 2010, Vlaminck said MnDOT will need to create detailed plans and purchase land before any construction starts. MnDOT hopes to work on the project in 2016, but would advance the project if possible.