By Rep. Tony Jurgens, 4/7/2017
Hello from St. Paul,
I have good news to report for Hastings residents who were concerned about MnDOT raising the speed limits along Highway 316. After having numerous meetings and discussions with the department over the past few weeks, MnDOT has agreed to leave the speed limit at 35 miles an hour on Highway 316 from Highway 61 to just north of Tuttle Drive.
The story has been making news not only in Hastings (as seen in the Star Gazette) and on KDWA, but also statewide. Just this week a feature on Highway 316 aired on KSTP TV, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press has also featured it (click here).
Last week, my bill referenced in these stories was approved by the Minnesota House. It was contained as part of a larger transportation proposal that was sent to the Minnesota Senate, and the legislation itself was also scheduled to be debated as a stand-alone bill before the full Minnesota House. Now, I’m happy to report this legislation won’t be necessary.
As you may know, a Highway 316 resurfacing project in that area is scheduled for the year 2021. I had several conversations with MnDOT where they agreed to leave the limit at 35 until then, but I would not agree to it because it didn’t address the safety concerns of neighboring residents. In my opinion, that move would have just kicked the can down the road for four or five years.
On Thursday following one final conversation with MnDOT, we found a compromise that both the department – and I believe the City of Hastings as well as impacted residents – can live with.
MnDOT has now alerted the City of Hastings that it has agreed to not change the posted speed limits in the affected area, meaning it will stay at 35 miles an hour. In the letter submitted to Mayor Hicks, it stated it will continue to work with City staff to develop a public involvement plan that seeks input from community members and businesses on the design of the 2021 Highway 316 resurfacing project.
It also noted – and again, this was the key point in the entire Highway 316 debate and the reason for drafting legislation in the first place – that during the preliminary design of the future Highway 316 project, MnDOT and City staff will evaluate safety options for the area. These include, but are not limited to turn lanes, intersection control, lighting, and crosswalks. When this provision was added, I agreed to the terms.
Once the project is completed and the safety improvements have been made in the area, MnDOT will then conduct a new speed study to determine if speed limits should be increased.
The City of Hastings has put in a great deal of time working with MnDOT on the speed limit changes, and I’d like to thank the mayor, council members, and city staff for their work on this issue, and for their continued support of my legislation that addressed Highway 316. I’d also like to thank the Hastings residents who live along the highway who brought this problem to my attention several months ago while I was out door knocking, and the citizens who came to St. Paul and testified.
This is a great example of people having concerns, getting involved in the process, and helping secure a successful conclusion. For me, the safety of Hastings residents has always been the top priority in this speed limit debate. I believe this is the most common sense solution that could have been reached and I am extremely pleased MnDOT was willing to listen to and work with us and help put this compromise is in place.
Have a good weekend,
Representative Tony Jurgens
523 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155