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MnDOT answers county questions about Hwy. 23 safety proposals

August 8, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - Members of the Lyon County Board got a chance Tuesday to have their questions answered about safety measures proposed for the intersection between Minnesota Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 30 near Lynd. County commissioners held a conference call with Mark Vizecky of the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

MnDOT has applied for a safety grant to install a traffic warning system and street lights at the intersection of Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 30. If the county enters into a contract with MnDOT, it will share some of the maintenance costs for the project if the grant is approved.

Vizecky said the warning system was part of a statewide safety project. In an online presentation, Vizecky shared slides of what the proposed safety measures would look like. The warning system proposed for the intersection would not be the same style as the electronic signs currently posted at the intersection of Minnesota Highway 23 and Lyon County Road 7 in Marshall but would have the same purpose of warning drivers about oncoming traffic. The proposed signs would be yellow traffic signs with lights that flash when a vehicle approaches the intersection.

"Most rural intersection crashes are right-angle crashes," Vizecky said.

Under the proposed contract, Vizecky said, MnDOT would own the signs at the intersection and maintain them through a warranty period, and Lyon County would be responsible for the maintenance of the street lights installed at the intersection.

Commissioner Rick Anderson said he didn't understand why MnDOT chose the Lynd intersection instead of one of the intersections between MinnesotaHighway 23 and county roads near Cottonwood. Two fatal crashes have occurred near Cottonwood in the past few months, he said.

"I guess I still have issues with the intersection you chose," Anderson said.

Fatalities weren't the only factor taken into account in MnDOT's selection of intersections, Vizecky said. Intersections were prioritized based on several factors like being located on a curve, near a railroad crossing, or near a lot of development. MnDOT has received local requests for safety improvements near Cottonwood, and is starting the process of working with those requests, he said.

Commissioner Mark Goodenow questioned why the contract would hold Lyon County responsible for the streetlights, when that wasn't the case for other lights along state highways. Vizecky said that was just the way the state contract was written. The lighting portion could be removed from the Lyon County contract, he said.

"I would like to move we enter the contract, but I would like to respectfully decline the streetlight," Goodenow said.

The motion passed 4-1, with Anderson casting the dissenting vote.

Later in Tuesday's meeting, commissioners heard a presentation on the Lyon County landfill's long-term budget by engineer Fred Doran of SAIC.

Doran projected landfill revenues of about $2.3 million in 2013, with about $1.8 million of those revenues coming from tipping fees. The biggest expense for the landfill in 2013 would be operations and maintenance, Doran said. Another major expense would be construction of a transfer station, a building where local waste haulers could unload trash when the landfill is closed on windy days.

Doran said operations and maintenance costs, plus the cost of future improvement projects like constructing new landfill cells, would continue to affect the landfill's cash flow over the next 20 years.

If tipping fees at the landfill remain the same as they are now, cash flow will decrease and eventually go into the red, he said. Tipping fees rates at the landfill haven't been raised since 1991, Doran said.

The actions of other counties could have an effect on Lyon County landfill revenues, Doran said. He said Redwood and Renville counties have entered into a joint powers agreement for solid waste, and Renville County would be transferring waste starting in 2014. Depending on where the counties send their trash, it could negatively or positively affect cash flow at the Lyon County landfill.

Lyon County Environmental Administrator Paul Henriksen suggested giving a presentation to Renville County about the Lyon County landfill, to encourage the county to consider transferring waste to the Lyon County landfill.



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