WORTHINGTON — The distance along U.S. 59 between Worthington and Fulda is not slated to be re-paved in the next decade.
Nobles County commissioners have repeatedly advocated for a solution to the rough road in that area, especially for farmers driving large vehicles. They learned at their Tuesday board meeting that the Minnesota Department of Transportation is predicting a good road quality index along that stretch in 2031, so the re-pavement has been designated a shelf project, meaning that it may be completed in the next few years if additional funding comes into play. If not, it will have to wait.
"What do you guys use to drive when you figure out what's good and what's bad?" commissioner Justin Ahlers asked MnDOT representatives Tuesday.
District 7 Engineer Greg Ous explained that MnDOT uses a van with sensors that pick up data about each road in the state.
Ahlers replied that it's very different in a singe-axle semi truck, like the one he drives on that road.
"Our work indicates that it's in better shape than the seat of the pants says," Ous agreed.
Board chair Gene Metz echoed Ahlers's concern, adding, "You can't build it perfect for everybody, I realize that, but it is extra expense for wear and tear on the vehicle."
Between now and 2037, MnDOT District 7 is expected to significantly increase its investment in pavement (from 33.5% in 2021 to 52.9% in 2037), but U.S. 59 is not included in plans drafted so far.
Ous and District 7 Planning Director Rhonda Allis also provided an update on two ongoing projects in Nobles County. The bridge replacement at the junction of Interstate 90 and Minnesota 91 in Adrian, which cost $1,957,455, is scheduled to finish by the contract end date of Sept. 1, and possibly sooner. The replacement of the Minnesota 60 roundabouts at Oxford Street, County Road 35 and Interstate 90 in Worthington, which cost $977,441.46, is set to be complete by Oct. 1.
"From my naked eye, I don't see much difference (in the roundabouts)," commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. said. "Can you help me explain to the public what happened there?"
Ous said that the main purpose of re-doing the roundabouts was to lower the slope of the truck aprons, to make them safer for the many truckers who pass through the area, as well as to prevent pavement shift.
Also Tuesday, commissioners:
- Congratulated Cliff Altman for 35 years of work with the highway department.
- Approved three purchases for the highway department: the final payment of an aggregate shaping contract with Henning Construction ($9,532.71), a used oiling trailer ($4,500) and a rebuilt sign cutter ($6,500).
- Approved the promotion of Nobles County Deputy Seth Jacoby to an investigator with the Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force.
- Approved updates to the members of the budget committee.
- Approved updates to the National Incident Management System (NIMS) guidelines.
Commissioners Bob Paplow and Don Linssen were absent, so the remaining commissioners continued an item regarding the direction of the 108 Kentucky Ave., Adrian, property until all five commissioners could be present.