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Heron Lake intersections to be reworked in 2019

HERON LAKE -- Minnesota 60's three connections to Heron Lake will be given a makeover in 2019 when they are transformed into reduced conflict intersections, or "J-turns."Rather than driving straight through four lanes of traffic, Heron Lake resid...

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(Special to The Globe)

HERON LAKE - Minnesota 60’s three connections to Heron Lake will be given a makeover in 2019 when they are transformed into reduced conflict intersections, or “J-turns.”

Rather than driving straight through four lanes of traffic, Heron Lake residents crossing Minnesota 60 on 10th Street will have to turn onto the highway and merge into a U-turn lane, then turn off of the highway on the other side in a turn-protected lane.

 

The rationale for the change is simple: the town’s 10th Street connection has long been one of the most dangerous intersections in the state. The crossing has had five fatality crashes in the last 12 years, the most recent of which came in 2015.

“Typically, it’s people who don’t stop in the median and want to go all the way through in one movement,” said Forrest Hasty, MnDOT District 7 project manager, who likes to call the new intersections RCUTs. “This allows drivers to focus on one direction of traffic at a time, rather than try to find a gap in traffic on both sides.”

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The intersection’s accidents are typically broadside, right-angle crashes, where a vehicle collides head-on with the door side of another vehicle - the most deadly kind of crash.

“These intersections on high-speed roadways are probably some of our worst intersections across the state,” said Derek Leuer, MnDOT principal engineer. “We see very high severity crashes at these expressway intersections. You get vehicles crossing at that right angle, people expose themselves to a vehicle going 70 miles per hour, and they’re going to have a bad day.”

The new lanes make it less likely for vehicles to collide at a right angle, reducing the risk of such a crash by 77 percent.

 

The First Street, 10th Street and Jackson County 24 intersections will be redone with J-turns.

 

Hasty said construction would likely begin around May 2019. The road will have partial lane closures throughout the process and each intersection will be closed during work, though at least one intersection will remain open at all times.

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MnDOT has hosted several informative meetings in Heron Lake and will have detailed information meetings in 2018 when plans are finalized.

 

More information can be found on the MnDOT website.

 

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