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MnDOT meeting outlines Minnesota 60 landscaping

WORTHINGTON — The snow may have been flying through the air late Tuesday afternoon, but officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation were in Worthington talking about trees, shrubs and sod plantings set to begin next spring. The plantings are part of a beautification project following the Minnesota 60 reconstruction through the community.

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During an open house at the Nobles County Government Center, MnDOT Landscape Design Specialist Patti Strohmayer showcased the various tree and shrub plantings planned. The design calls for the planting of 124 coniferous trees, 266 deciduous trees, 261 ornamental trees and 464 coniferous shrubs. Another 1,742 deciduous shrubs are planned, with the majority of them to be planted near the on-off ramps north and south of Interstate 90 to act as a living snow fence.

Other trees and shrubs will help to catch snow in the areas near the roundabouts and beautify the trail system that follows along the highway.

“We’ve got lots of nice fall color, we’ve got lots of nice spring color, early June color and winter color,” Strohmayer said, pointing to pictures of lilacs, redrosier dogwood, crabs, maples and the American cranberry bush. “The majority of the trees are deciduous.”

The ornamental trees will line Minnesota 60 and be planted in the medians to signify the entrance into the community in hopes of slowing traffic down.

Strohmayer developed the color palette of tree varieties, working closely with local street maintenance crews who will be tasked with caring for the plantings after MnDOT’s two-year maintenance agreement expires.

“A lot of this is very low maintenance stuff, but it will need that first two years (of watering and care),” Strohmayer said. “Trees are a lot easier to maintain.”

Trees and shrubs have already been planted within each of the roundabouts, helping to obstruct the view of traffic coming from directions other than from the left.

“(Drivers) are not supposed to be looking for those other vehicles. They’re supposed to be looking in one direction, and that’s the one directly to the left of them,” Strohmayer said. “You’re only going out to the right into that circle. (The plantings) are intentional to block that out.”

Bids will be sought from contractors for the Minnesota 60 landscaping project beginning Feb. 28, with planting to start as early as April 7, depending on weather.

“It depends on what kind of spring we have,” Strohmayer said, adding that all of the trees and shrubs must be planted by the end of June.

Before landscaping crews are allowed in to begin the plantings, other MnDOT contractors will be in town to complete sod placement. About two-thirds of the sodding was completed this fall.

With cold weather and snow halting work on the Minnesota 60 project in early November, temporary striping was done and will need to be replaced with permanent striping in the spring. Also, the Armour Road reconstruction project from Minnesota 60 east to near Joosten Road will be completed in the spring, according to MnDOT Project Engineer Bob Williams.

As for the roundabouts, Williams said traffic flow seems to be working well. There have been some issues with truck traffic backed up into the roundabout north of the Armour Road stoplights — the result of trains on the railroad tracks that block Armour Road access to JBS.

Williams said signs are being constructed to direct those trucks south to the next roundabout, and then east on Nobles County 33 to reach the pork processing facility.

Another issue with signage, directing people east instead of west to reach Oxford Street, is currently being corrected. Williams said the new signs will be up within a couple of weeks.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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