DELANO, MN – When the Highway 12 Safety Coalition began in 2014, no safety improvements were on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 20-year plan for the stretch of road from Wayzata to the Meeker County line.
Since then, improvements include a centerline barrier erected between Hennepin County roads 6 and 112, centerline rumble strips added east of Delano, and lighting improvements.
Thursday, the Coalition learned that MnDOT recently added two more Highway 12 safety improvements to its list for 2021.
“As you know, we’ve been looking at trying to prioritize and understand where we’re going to put our money for safety improvements, and it looks like in ’21, we’re going to be doing the improvements: the interchange improvement at Highway 12 and (Hennepin County Road) 90, as well as the gap in the barrier,” MnDOT West Area Manager April Crockett said. “So, we have funded them. Unfortunately, it’s out in ’21, but it’s better than their current status of not being funded.”
The barrier will stretch from County Road 6 to County Road 29 in Maple Plain, and the County Road 90 interchange improvement will be a roundabout. MnDOT engineer Chad Erickson said the most recent cost estimates were $5.1 million for the barrier and $5 million for the roundabout.
He emphasized the significance of the projects being funded by MnDOT.
“Just to add to what April said about identifying funding, that may not sound like a big deal, but that actually means metro management, mostly because of probably the input from this group, determined that’s more important than the other programs,” Erickson said. “That’s taking up pretty much the entire safety budget for ’21 . . . I guess, from my perspective, that’s a pretty big deal and it happened directly because of you folks.”
Three other projects were deemed as not as urgent and removed from the 2021 budget to make way for the Highway 12 projects, Erickson said.
“I think it’s exciting,” West Hennepin Public Safety Chief Gary Kroells, the chair of the coalition, said after the meeting. “Before it was ‘might, maybe, I don’t know.’ It’s great news.”
For more from the meeting, see the May 8 edition of the Delano Herald Journal.