Options considered for more safety, slow speeds on Lookout Drive | Local News


NORTH MANKATO — For residents and businesses along Lookout Drive in North Mankato, speeding, noise, and concerns about pedestrian and cyclist safety are a common concern.

Paul Boettcher, co-owner of United Team Elite, which is located on Lookout near the Marie Lane intersection where there is a traffic light, says the 45mph speed limit is often ignored.

“People go up Lookout Drive and if the light is green, they just pass.”

The city and a partner transportation group are reimagining what the corridor should look like in the future, with the public soon having the opportunity to vote on potential changes, including reduced traffic lanes, bike/pedestrian lanes, roundabouts and better landscaping.

North Mankato city planner Matt Lassonde said the corridor redesign is not currently on any road project schedule, but the city and the Mankato/North Mankato area planning organization want the public feedback and refine options for corridor reconstruction.

“There have been many pedestrian concerns, safety issues, speed issues, noise issues. The various alternatives aim to alleviate these conditions, some better than others,” Lassonde said.

He said ultimately the city will have to look at the changes to the road from a cost-benefit analysis and how it would affect different businesses, motorists and residents.

“We want to accommodate everyone equally and we just want to make it safe.”

Last fall, initial feedback was collected from some residents and businesses regarding several different options for the corridor. The options focused on three segments. The southern segment runs from the bottom of Lee Boulevard (near City Hall) up the hill to Marie Lane. The middle section runs from Marie Lane to Highway 14. The northern section runs from Highway 14 to the northern edge of the city limits.

On the southern segment, one of two options provided last fall reduced the current four lanes to a single lane up and one lane down the hill, with a wider cycle/pedestrian path on the side. This design got a pretty big thumbs up from the initial group of Residents who saw it.

A more popular design had two lanes uphill, one downhill, with a cycle/pedestrian path separated from traffic by a barrier.

Currently, joggers and cyclists use a shoulder next to the downhill lane, but Lassonde said the city wants to have some sort of barrier between vehicular and pedestrian traffic. What that barrier would look like remains to be seen. Lassonde said a strong concrete barrier would make it difficult to clear snow from the road.

“Being able to clear snow is a big consideration.”

In the midsection of Lookout Drive, people preferred a plan that left the current two lanes in each direction, with a grass median between them.

Plans that showed only one lane in each direction, including one that added a center turning lane, did not garner much support.

Both options would add more grass, shrubs and trees along the roadway.

On the northern section, people were generally in favor of the only alternative given – taking the current two-lane road and turning it into a three-lane, with the middle lane being a dedicated turning lane.

Although there were a relatively small number of people who responded to the plans last fall, Lassonde said the feedback helps the city and Bolton & Menk engineers refine and refine the alternatives that will be presented during of the next round of public comment in August.

He said the city will hold an open house in early August, hold a pop-up event at the farmers’ market, and let people weigh in anytime through the city’s website and Facebook pages.

Lassonde said that while they were refining the alternatives, they hadn’t decided on any of the options at this point.

As the city moves forward in the future to rebuild the corridor, it will seek state and federal funding sources and provide matching funds to the city.


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