Intersections with Tiger Drive, CSAH 33 discussed
MARSHALL — Minnesota Highway 23 has already been the focus of safety projects in Marshall over the past several years — but there are still trouble spots, community members said.
On Wednesday, local stakeholders and Minnesota Department of Transportation staff members watched drone footage taken of traffic at the intersection of Highway 23 and Tiger Drive near Marshall High School. At the end of a school day, there were lines of vehicles waiting to turn onto or cross the highway. Some northbound vehicles were even making U-turns at the intersection to go south on Highway 23.
It was a risky situation, Marshall community members said.
Balancing traffic needs and safety on Highway 23 was a big challenge facing Marshall and MnDOT, said Mayor Bob Byrnes.
“That’s a vital corridor, so it’s important to keep freight and traffic moving there, but also do it in a way that’s safe,” Byrnes said.
On Wednesday, the Marshall Area Transportation Group brought together representatives of MnDOT, and community stakeholders to talk issues affecting Minnesota Highway 23 on the east side of Marshall. David Sturrock, chairman of the MATG, said the meeting grew out of discussions with MnDOT going back a year or more.
“We’re certainly happy to be here and have this kind of discussion,” said MnDOT District 8 Engineer Jon Huseby. “I think, looking at this kind of transportation problem, you kind of have to look at the whole system and how the system is interacting.”
The different people present at the meeting included state Sen. Gary Dahms, representatives of the city of Marshall, Lyon County, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall Public Schools, and Archer Daniels Midland.a
Byrnes said one of the main areas of discussion for local residents would likely be the area of Highway 23 near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 19. With the campuses of SMSU and MHS, the Red Baron Arena, local businesses and possible future development, “There’s a lot of activity there,” he said. “So I think it’s important that we have all these stakeholders that are here really work together.”
Sturrock and other stakeholders said the intersections with Highway 23 — including the 23/Tiger Drive intersection — were one area of concern.
“There are a number of potentially incompatible traffic patterns that occur there, particularly when school lets out in the afternoon,” Sturrock said.
MHS Principal Brian Jones said the area became more complex for traffic after Commencement Boulevard was opened up.
“We will get — not so many students, but more parents picking up students — they will come in on (Commencement Boulevard), and then they’ll exit on (Commencement Boulevard), make a right hand turn onto 23 and then make that U-turn,” Jones said. “That’s added a whole new element of complexity that, when the school was built, did not exist.”
Marshall EDA Director Lauren Deutz also said a lack of road access off of Highway 23, and traffic congestion around the high school, were challenges both to development of nearby land and to driveway access for local businesses.
“The statistics of crashes aren’t too bad, relatively speaking,” at the intersections near MHS, Huseby said. “But it would be good to do something proactive here.”
Huseby and District 8 traffic engineer Cody Brand said MnDOT has looked at the possibility of building either a J-turn or a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 23 and Tiger Drive. The main challenge MnDOT faces in addressing the concerns raised about Highway 23 in Marshall will be getting funding for construction, Huseby said.
Brand said MnDOT has submitted two applications for federal HSIP (Highway Safety Improvement Program) funding, one for a J-turn and one for a roundabout. In upcoming weeks, applications will be going through a competitive scoring process against other proposals across the state.
“We did put in those two applications to really kind of just sort it out and see — how do they score? What’s the feasibility here?” he said. Brand thought the J-turn proposal would likely score better than the roundabout proposal. “Before we would select either one of them, of course there’d be a lot more engagement with the project stakeholders.”
Brand said MnDOT will also be setting up cameras at the intersection to get a better idea of what traffic is doing.
Brand said the cost to build a J-turn at the Tiger Drive intersection would be about $2.8 million in 2028, or over $5 million for a roundabout in 2028. A roundabout project would also require local participation from the city of Marshall.
Marshall community members also pointed out that there were safety concerns for truck traffic at the intersection of Highway 23 and Highway 19, as well as the intersection of Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 33.
At the 23/19 intersection, “The right turn (lane) going south causes a lot of problems,” said ADM Plant Manager Eric McVey. “People treat it as an acceleration lane, but it’s not.”
“And then, if I can put in my wish list, I’d love for you to improve 23 and 33, and I think you could do that cheap, with lights and signage,” McVey told MnDOT staff.
In addition to needing better lighting at the Highway 23/County 33 intersection, McVey said turning left onto Highway 23 and heading north posed a problem for trucks. Turning west onto County Road 33 could also be challenging.
“At night and when it’s snowy, it’s hard to see where the road is,” McVey said.
Sturrock said Marshall stakeholders and MATG would be interested in discussing both long-term and short-term ways to help mitigate traffic problems along Highway 23.
“I really appreciate getting all these entities together,” Huseby said. “There’s certainly some very good ideas and some helpful discussion today.”