Business owners express concerns about final designs for Interstate 10 expansion plan – Wadena Pioneer Journal

Business owners express concerns about final designs for Interstate 10 expansion plan – Wadena Pioneer Journal

WADENA — The Minnesota Department of Transportation’s plan to expand Interstate 10 to four lanes through our valley is not going down well with some business owners.

A special Wadena City Council meeting was held Monday, Oct. 23, to discuss the final planning version of the Interstate 10 project scheduled to begin in 2025. MnDOT plans to improve and widen Interstate 10 to four lanes — two lanes in each direction — from west of Wadena at 620th Street. To the east of Wadena at the Oink Road/140th Street joint.

MnDOT representatives Eric Schiller, lead project manager, and Kevin Schmidt, district right-of-way engineer; The meeting was attended by Derek Schmidt, senior transportation project manager from WSB, a Minneapolis-based design and consulting firm.

Schiller along with his companions presented a new visual video. The Interstate 10 project includes J-turns and roundabouts intended to improve corridor performance, mobility and safety and to encourage and enhance new business growth along the corridor.

However, several business owners who would be directly affected by the upcoming project attended and expressed concerns about the version of Interstate 10 planning presented at the meeting.

The portion of Interstate 10 in Wadena is the last portion of the highway that is not a four-lane highway. The 6-mile gap has been a controversial topic at City Council meetings for some time, as many businesses along Interstate 10 will be directly affected by the expansion project. In April 2021, District 3 received $5 million in project development bond funds for the Highway 10 Gap Project from the bond package passed in fall 2020. An additional $30 million in Trunk Highway bond funds was allocated to the project in June 2021 as part From the Comprehensive Transportation Bill of 2021.

After watching a six-minute video, Mayor George Dees opened the meeting to allow the public to comment. Duke Harrison of Mason Brothers spoke first. Mason Brothers is a prominent company in our Valley, employing more than 250 people, Harrison said. Mason Brothers has about 30 trucks coming in and out of business daily, which accounts for a fair amount of traffic coming in and out of town, he said. Harrison’s concerns were mostly related to the roundabout on Harry Rich Road.

“One of my concerns is that if this is where our truck traffic is supposed to enter Interstate 10, it’s about visibility, so when you enter that intersection from the north side going south, when you go to that roundabout, because that roundabout is swerving “So far north, you can’t see the traffic coming from east to west,” Harrison said.

Harrison also noted that trucks struggle with acceleration.

“So this vision concerns me a little bit because you can’t see. And that’s one of the things is that traffic coming from the east going west on Interstate 10, it’s going to be going very fast until it gets to the yield sign, where if the truck driver knows, there’s two cars coming Harrison then said, “I have a quarter-mile or half-mile gap, and he can decide when he wants to get into that intersection.”

Harrison also said he felt the other roundabout near 640th Street was a very good idea. However, Harrison noted that there is another problem in his opinion with the proposed plan. “I have a little bit of a bigger problem with this plan, which is that I don’t feel like Mason Brothers was treated fairly and equitably,” he said.

The plan presented by MnDOT includes removing one of the entrances to Mason Brothers. Harrison said he spoke with representatives at Todd Wadena Electric Co-Op about a potential joint entry point. Harrison is working with a MnDOT-certified appraiser to determine the cost of the shared entrance with Todd Wadena Electric Co-Op. The Mason Brothers entrance was part of the final design that was most talked about, Schiller said.

“We’re working on perpetuating the movements in your business in a different way,” Schiller said. “And in terms of the shared entrance, there’s a lot of design complexity in doing that work, which is what we started with. But there’s a big drainage structure and a big fall between you and your neighbor and that creates a number of different problems.” “.

Harrison went on to say that the current design would add three to five minutes per truck per day and per trip, noting that this does not hurt business, but it will have an impact. In response, Schiller said Harrison’s examples and concerns are justified but also a good example that design won’t solve everything.

“There will be some impacts. The highway design will not solve all the problems,” Schiller said.

Derek Schmidt also responded to Harrison’s questions regarding the proposed layout and potential co-entry, noting that an appraiser has been hired to look at other businesses similar to Mason Brothers in both the St. Louis and St. Louis metro area. Cloud and the Twin Cities are also located along a major freeway with similar entrances.

“So, if all of these businesses have similar access to a busy road eventually, there’s no competitive advantage across central Minnesota,” Derek Schmidt said.

Harrison continued to draw the attention of MnDOT representatives for answers to some of his questions, including the time frame for a potential joint access evaluation. Harrison’s main concern was with timing and whether or not there would be time to wait for the evaluation before MnDOT finalized the planning plan.

Schiller noted that the current design was not the original plan, and said it was discussed at length through numerous meetings, talks and town hall meetings about the pending project.

“What we started with is not what you see now, and that MnDOT has to balance all the needs that are coming in as best we can, and the impacts and everything gets replaced by something else, and designing the highway doesn’t solve everything,” Schiller said.

Schiller also said the limitations MnDOT is under when it comes to a massive project like this include the topography of the land, existing infrastructure issues, drainage and what is in the interest of safety. Although some input from business owners has been taken into account, Schiller said not everything and every problem will be solved individually, though he hopes what they’ve done over the past year in addition to that is at least a transparent, process. Predictable.

Harrison then stated that he was hearing that there was “no glimmer of hope” and that the scheme would remain as it was. Schiller stated that yes, this would be the preferred design they offer today. MnDOT’s Kevin Schmidt also provided additional insight into why the preferred version is the best solution, noting that the design is intended to be from a traffic safety perspective.

“Spacing major intersections is about safety, and known safety concerns will lead to accidents,” Kevin Schmidt said.

Kevin Schmidt also mentioned that the concern lies in where the right turn lane begins. “So you probably have vehicles turning into Mason Brothers. You also have vehicles turning right on Cty Road 4, and it’s difficult for drivers to differentiate which vehicle they’re turning into. And you’ll see a greater increase in rear-end accidents when you have multiple right turns. You have Entrances in the right lanes. That’s our statistic from that perspective. “That’s our traffic concern,” Kevin Schmidt said.

Additional comments were made by other business representatives including Terry Wendt of Heartland Tire, Jason Merickel of Merickel Ace Hardware, and Tom and Rich Paper of Wadena Hide and Fur. Rep. Mike Wiener was also present to speak on behalf of business owners who have contacted him about the pending highway project.

Schiller reiterated that the main goal is safety for those entering and exiting businesses, and what’s more, left turns from a busy highway intersection and redundant access points cause safety concerns. In an email to the Wadena Pioneer Journal, Schiller provided additional comments about working with the city of Wadena and business owners.

“Our project team appreciates how involved our Valley community has been over the past year and the quality of feedback we have received from area businesses, residents and local officials including city staff. These types of designs are some of the most difficult challenges as we sometimes balance competing interests as we strive To make design decisions that are in the overall public interest both today and in the future. “As a result of many meaningful conversations and input, we were able to make several design changes that incorporated local feedback while balancing the safety and operational needs identified in the project,” Schiller said.

After business owners had the opportunity to speak, the City Council had the option of approving municipal approval of MnDOT’s proposed plan, however, the Council postponed the proposal until the regular City Council meeting scheduled for November 14 at City Hall. Councilman Dan Sartell made a motion to delay municipal approval until business owners have had an opportunity to discuss the final design proposal with MnDOT representatives. Councilman Mark Lundy supported the proposal.

For more information including the preliminary design, new visual video and additional information about the Interstate 10 widening project, visit

Nicole Strasek is a community reporter for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. She can be reached at 218-631-2561 or

(Tags for translation) Derek Schmidt

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