By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 3/10/2017
Hello from St. Paul,
Following a disappointing meeting with the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) to address speed limit increases in the City of Hastings, I drafted legislation that would require MnDOT to maintain a 35 mile per hour speed limit on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to just north of Tuttle Drive.
MnDOT wants to raise speed limits in five different areas of Hastings this spring, and I have received numerous complaints from residents regarding the five-mile per-hour increase along Highway 316. After meeting with the department it was clear MnDOT wasn’t willing to wait, so I decided to try a different course of action.
A MnDOT representative visited my office on March 7 to discuss its decision. MnDOT indicated that the stretch of Highway 316 from Highway 61 to Tuttle Drive is scheduled to be resurfaced in 2021, and noted that might be the time to address safety concerns in this area, which could include anything from a traffic light, roundabout, or other improvement the department deems necessary.
I asked if the department could simply hold off on increasing the speed limit in this area until 2021 and was told that was not an option. I also asked if radar speed indicator signs in this area could help. MnDOT told me that studies show while the signs are initially effective, ultimately motorists grow accustomed to seeing them and return to faster driving.
I told MnDOT I appreciated the department’s willingness to move from its initial change of 45 to 40 miles per hour, but it still did not adequately address residents’ safety concerns.
In response, I drafted a bill that would maintain the 35 mile per hour speed limit on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to Tuttle Drive. It also required MnDOT to conduct a safety study in that area and report its findings and recommendations to the Legislature.
MnDOT said it has already conducted a study along Highway 316, but it was a speed study to determine how fast people are driving. It has not taken into account the lack of a shoulder in some of the residential areas, lack of turning lanes, and lack of a sidewalk and crosswalk. Area residents don’t want to know how fast people are driving, they want to know they’re going to be safe.
The bill was heard before the Minnesota House Transportation and Regional Governance Policy Committee on March 8. During the hearing, testimony in favor of the legislation was given by Hastings residents Owen Hecht, Dave Rother, and Susan Tate who live in the impacted area. Hastings City Council members Joe Balsanek, Trevor Lund and Tina Folch were also in attendance to support the bill.
Mayor Paul Hicks also sent a letter of support that was distributed to committee members.
The bill was ultimately approved by a unanimous vote and now heads to the Minnesota Transportation Finance Committee for further debate.
I was also pleased to meet with several area residents this week. Hastings constituent Katy Lindberg was here for Insurance Day at the Capitol.
Members of the Minnesota Farm Bureau in Dakota County also stopped by to visit about their legislative issues.
This morning I was able to present St. Elizabeth Ann Seton teacher Kathy Gleich with a House resolution in honor of her being named Hastings Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year. Congratulations!
Have a good weekend,
Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155