Transportation, construction projects dominate board discussion

WORTHINGTON -- Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation's District 7 office appeared before Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday to present an update on the Capital Highway Investment Plan.

WORTHINGTON - Representatives from the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s District 7 office appeared before Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday to present an update on the Capital Highway Investment Plan.

Greg Ous, MnDOT District 7 engineer, said there is a lot of need throughout both the district and the state, but the challenge is always funding. From 2018 through 2037, MnDOT has identified a statewide need of $39 billion to address roads and bridges, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, mobility projects and facilities, with revenues during that time projected at just $21 billion (not including the legislature’s recent funding authorization).

Ous said the transportation department has put a lot of emphasis on bridge repairs and replacements in the last decade, and will now shift more of its focus on roads.

“Our pavements are starting to show their wear,” he said, noting that I-90 has a lot of elements needing replacement or repair. As a result, increased state investment in pavement will be seen during the next four to six years.

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to walk away from bridges - we’re just shifting some funding,” Ous said.


The primary projects on MnDOT’s 10-year plan include bridge replacements in 2019 and a mill and overlay in 2020 on Minnesota 91, from Adrian north to the Murray County line, and U.S. 59 improvements between Worthington and Fulda in 2027.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

  • Denied a request from Frank McDowell, general manager of New Vision Co-op, to cost-share on replacement of the railroad crossing on Nobles County State Aid Highway 1 in Brewster. McDowell brought plates showing the wear after just 13 years, and said the cost to replace the steel plates with a water-tight and salt-tight solution will cost up to $110,000. He said the crossing would be just like those in Worthington when completed.

“I think there is some public good here,” McDowell said. “If we update this crossing it will be safer; it will be better for many years.”
Commissioner Matt Widboom moved to pay $44,000 toward the project cost, but it died for lack of a second.

Commissioner Gene Metz said he couldn’t vote for the cost-share because the county incurs costs for patching up pavement disruption each time railroad improvements are made on the road.

  • Approved a $75,000 change order for fixing the foundation on the Nobles County Government Center. It was discovered a waterproofing membrane installed a decade ago to prevent water leakage was inadequate and will need to be redone.
  • Awarded a contract to Brennan Companies, Mankato, to construct the Prairie Justice Center (PJC) garage addition at a cost of $1,169,500. The bid was below the $1.3 million engineer’s estimate, partly because the roof on the addition was included in bidding for the reroofing project.
  • Approved a professional services agreement with INSPEC to monitor the roofing project on the PJC.
  • Authorized $12,000 to Falls Architecture Studio, Sioux Falls, S.D., to develop a design to remodel the vault in the auditor-treasurer’s office and to design walk-up windows, review code and develop a formal design for security installations at the PJC.
  • Approved conditional use permits for Brad Lonneman, Adrian, to construct a 101- by 92-foot total confinement barn in Section 2, Little Rock Township; and for Mary Jean Pigman to operate a home-extended business consisting of antiques and collectibles in Section 3, Bigelow Township.
  • Approved a change in hours for the motor vehicle department. The office will now be open to the public from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • Authorized implementation of credit card use, contingent on no fees being charged to the county. Acceptance of credit card payment will be offered in the auditor-treasurer’s office for fees and taxes, and in the recorder’s office for fees.
  • Approved establishment of the subordinate service district for the unincorporated village of Reading.
  • Reauthorized property tax abatement through the Nobles Home Initiative for North Development Group LLC to construct a 72-unit apartment complex in Worthington.
  • Recognized staff in Nobles County Community Services who work with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for its recent state acknowledgement in timely processing of SNAP cases.
  • Presented the July Excellence in Performance award to Nobles County Sheriff’s Office K-9 deputy Michael Schei.
Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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