Marshall Independent / Deb Gau on June 20, 2019
COTTONWOOD — Next summer’s construction season will be a major one for motorists who travel frequently on Minnesota Highway 23 between Granite Falls and Cottonwood.
A planned Minnesota Department of Transportation improvement project will close down the highway and force motorists to use a detour. However, the construction will also bring some much-needed safety updates to communities like Cottonwood, said MnDOT representatives.
MnDOT held informational meetings on planned Highway 23 construction in Cottonwood and Granite Falls Tuesday evening. While some details on the project weren’t yet available, area residents got an overview of changes like culvert replacements, new left turn lanes near Cottonwood and Hanley Falls, and a realignment of the Highway 23/Lyon County Road 9 intersection. The construction will affect about 18 miles of Highway 23, running from Cottonwood north to the intersection of Highway 23 and Highway 212 in Granite Falls, MnDOT said. Much of the work will be resurfacing the roadway. About 3 inches of the existing road surface will be milled off, and overlaid with 7 inches of new concrete.
But for local residents, some of the key features of the project will be safety improvements at intersections with Highway 23. MnDOT project manager Lance Kalthoff said left turn lanes will be built at three intersections in Cottonwood. The turn lanes will allow drivers traveling on Highway 23 to more safely turn onto Lyon County Road 9, County Road 75, and County Road 10 in Cottonwood. In addition, Kalthoff said part of Lyon County Road 9 will be realigned to square up with Highway 23.
Currently, County Road 9 goes past the Cottonwood Co-Op agronomy center and intersects with Highway 23 at an angle. Kalthoff said that existing County Road 9 intersection would be closed in the realignment, but part of the old road would remain for access to the agronomy center. Left turn lanes will also be built at the intersection of Highway 23 and Yellow Medicine County Road 2, and Highway 23 and Yellow Medicine County Road 18 in Hanley Falls. In Granite Falls, the highway construction will include updates to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act at the intersection of Highway 23 and Highway 212, as well as from the Highway 23 junction to Washington Street.
The planned construction will likely take all summer, said MnDOT representative Paul Rasmussen. “We’ll start right away in the spring (of 2020),” Rasmussen said, and finish in the fall. A detour will be in place during construction. Instead of traveling straight through on Highway 23, motorists will need to turn onto Lyon County Road 22, north of Green Valley, and then head north on County Road 6 through Wood Lake. In Cottonwood, one intersection crossing Highway 23 will likely be kept open at a time during construction, Rasmussen said. However, he said each of the three intersections under construction will have to be closed down at some point, in order to do concrete work.