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A sneak peek

WORTHINGTON -- A large crowd of property owners, business people and city and county government leaders gathered at an open house Tuesday afternoon in Worthington to get their first look at the proposed redesign and four-lane expansion project of Minnesota 60.

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) staff from District 7 were on hand at the Nobles County Government Center to explain the construction project, which is slated to begin in 2010 north of Bigelow, and continue through 2013, when the project reaches Interstate 90 and the existing four-lane highway there.

Large maps rolled out on tables arranged in a semi-circle in the Farmer's Room showed details of the proposed design, from a re-configured Y-interchange at U.S. 59 near the south end of the project to a series of roundabouts planned within Worthington's city limits.

Robert Williams, who will serve as the project engineer for the entire segment, said features in the design will make for a safer roadway, and roundabouts in the city limits will help to slow traffic. All along the new four-lane, access roads will be squared off to improve sight issues.

Before construction can begin in 2010, MnDOT must first acquire property rights for those affected by the project. On Tuesday, Timothy Hoehn, MnDOT's District 7 Right of Way Supervisor, was on hand to discuss acquisition with those property owners.

Hoehn said the plan is to work on acquisitions from the south end of the project northward. Approximately $12 million has been dedicated for rights of way acquisitions on the total project, he added.

MnDOT recently hired an appraiser to begin work on the acquisitions, and contacts with property owners in Phase I (from the Bigelow bypass to Nobles County 10) will begin as early as next week.

"We will be making offers in July," Hoehn said. "It gives us some time to relocate those properties before construction begins in 2010."

Once the acquisitions are completed in Phase I, Hoehn said their hope is to move right into Phase II, but it depends on the availability of funding. The second phase of the project will stretch from Nobles County 10 to County State Aid Highway 35, near Worthington Power & Equipment. That phase is slated for property acquisition in 2009 and 2010, with construction in 2011.

The third phase, from CSAH 35 to I-90, will be constructed from 2012 to 2013, with property acquisition in 2010 and 2011. This phase will include work under the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge, relocation of the trailer park on Worthington's east side and the proposed development of three roundabouts -- one at Oxford Street and Minnesota 60, a second at Armour Road, and a third at I-90.

"Roundabouts (create) much less delays, they're safer and you eliminate right angle crashes," Williams said. He said there could be about half a dozen roundabouts constructed in the project, with possible roundabouts at Nobles Street and at CSAH 35.

"(They are) a traffic calming device," he added. "That's what you want to do in urban areas is slow the traffic."

While there may be concerns about trucks maneuvering the roundabouts, Williams said the larger vehicles should be able to get through the areas "fairly well."

As for the railroad bridge, which has also been a source of crashes for trucks exceeding the height limit, Williams said MnDOT will lower the roadway. Before that road work can begin, a temporary railroad bridge will be constructed north of the existing bridge, he added.

"To go over (the existing) railroad bridge, you'd need 20- to 30 feet of fill and all of a sudden the railroad bridge would be the highest point in Worthington," Williams said.

Tuesday's open house gave people an opportunity to look at the design plans and make comments. Plans for the project are expected to be finalized shortly.

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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