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Bus access, crosswalk will be added at Intermediate School; Oxford-Crailsheim intersection study needed

Drivers change their driving habits based on a number of different factors, and a study of traffic patterns would help inform solutions to the entire corridor's traffic issues.

Worthington Middle School students cross the busy intersection of Oxford Street, also known as Nobles County 35, and North Crailsheim Road, also known as Nobles County 10, this week.
Worthington Middle School students cross the busy intersection of Oxford Street, also known as Nobles County 35, and North Crailsheim Road, also known as Nobles County 10, this week.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — The Intermediate School will get a new bus access point and pedestrian crossing on Crailsheim Road before school starts, and traffic studies for the Oxford Street-Crailsheim intersection will occur in the fall.

THE INTERSECTION
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That’s what the Nobles County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to do during a special meeting Tuesday, after speaking with County Engineer Aaron Holmbeck as well as District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard and representatives of the city of Worthington.

Initially, the county had planned on completing safety fixes at Oxford and Crailsheim at the same time as the Intermediate School project. When bidding was opened for the project, however, only one bid was received — and because it was 75% higher than the estimated cost, that bid was rejected.

That left the school lacking its promised bus access onto Crailsheim Road, as well the alterations to the intersection, where one child was struck by a vehicle and others have had close calls despite the assistance of adult crossing guards.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Holmbeck recommended going forward with just one of the projects, and specifically, he recommended completing the Intermediate School’s bus exit and installing a new pedestrian crossing there. He said county workers could do the work required, and that three local contractors had expressed interest in doing concrete for the project when he’d asked them about it.

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“... we really don’t know how that is going to really unfold until school really opens up,” Holmbeck said, explaining that traffic patterns in the area will change at that time. “I think there’s something to be said about observing that this fall, and then starting, and really focusing more on the planning of this corridor long-term, not just in a near-term type fashion.”

Drivers change their driving habits based on a number of different factors, and what engineers believe they will do is not always what they actually do, he said.

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“And so I think improving it, too, from a pedestrian standpoint, for safety, I think that’s very important. I think we need to do that,” Holmbeck added.

He also priced out flashing lights, which would cost about $11,000, and said the county could install those too, as well as, potentially, a right-hand turn lane.

Holmbeck emphasized the importance of bigger-picture solutions and setting clearer goals.

“As it stands … we’re taking a whole grade out of that (middle) school,” Holmbeck said. “It’d be interesting to see how it actually looks like in the fall, you know, what’s actually taking place there.”

Landgaard said that about 750 students will attend WMS, and about 650 will go to the Intermediate School. Most of the kids at the Intermediate School, who are in grades 3-5, will ride the bus or be driven by their parents. About 60 to 75 kids walked to the Middle School, he said, particularly in the spring and fall, and there’s been more students walking and riding bike to the Learning Center this year as well.

“And once the Community Education building’s done, you’ll probably see more adult pedestrian traffic in that place,” Landgaard added.

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His biggest concern, though, is having that bus exit completed by Aug. 26, he said.

Steve Robinson, city administrator, emphasized the importance of finishing the work before students arrive.

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“We don’t want road construction occurring after school starts,” he said, also emphasizing the importance of observing traffic patterns before designing improvements.

Steve Schnieder, who is a member of the District 518 Board of Education, was primarily at the meeting in his capacity as city engineer and public works director for the city of Worthington.

Schnieder said that since WMS was constructed, traffic in the area has been a constant topic of discussion, and safety improvements were made, including paving the shoulders and installing curbs and gutters. Schnieder said adding the turn lanes would help, but so could keeping the lanes tighter and more compact, which generally gets drivers to slow down due to a visual appearance of congestion.

City council member Chad Cummings asked about potentially changing speed limits in the area, and county commissioner chairman Donald Linssen said the state of Minnesota will need to do a speed study before that can happen.

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A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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