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Editorial: Minnesota 60 takes a tough turn

At a public hearing Monday night with a Minnesota Department of Transportation representative, Worthington City Council members and city staff got some bad news.

According to a report published in Tuesday's Daily Globe, MnDOT's Peter Harff -- the agency's Minnesota 60 project manager -- said that he had assumed throughout the project design phase that the roundabout planned at Minnesota 60 and Nobles County 35 would be entirely funded by MnDOT. But, he added, he'd learned recently that local governments have been required in other areas of the state to fund the road extensions that come into the roundabout. Harff said he didn't know what the city cost might now be for the road, but he offered a maximum amount of $60,000.

Alderman Ron Wood proceeded to express his displeasure with the city having to fund a portion of the feature, noting that safety concerns were sacrificed because the city had opted to follow MnDOT's roundabout recommendations. But there's considerably more than a potential $60,000 at stake, as city leaders are considering some form of pedestrian crossing on Minnesota 60 between Morningside Drive and East Avenue.

A pedestrian bridge, Harff said Monday, would require an extended ramp because of ADA regulation and force more homes to be relocated. Another alternative would be building a pedestrian tunnel; these structures could range from $200,000 in cost to the more than $500,000 just spent in St. Peter.

While we appreciate the safety concerns expressed in considering a pedestrian crossing at the highway, we can't help but wonder how often a bridge or tunnel would be utilized. Is that area crossed regularly now? We realize Morningside Drive is a residential area, but how frequently are folks who live on that street crossing the highway on foot right now?

These are questions we hope the city has answers to when a final decision is made. We also hope MnDOT and the city are able to be on the same page as to funding sources and amounts.