Highway 23 improvement project set to start in 2001

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 9/22/99.

Work on the final environmental impact statement for the four-lane expansion of Highway 23 between Interstate 94 and Richmond, has been progressing well during the last year, reports the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

The 14.5 mile, $26 million Highway 23 corridor improvement is expected to be constructed in four stages during the years 2001 to 2005. An open house/ public hearing was held on Sept. 1, 1998, to give the public an opportunity to review the draft environmental impact statement and submit their views and opinions on this project. Various local, state, and federal environmental and resource agencies have also reviewed and commented on the project since that time. The final environmental impact statement will address all verbal and written comments.

Changes to the project
There have been some changes to the project as a result of comments that were received from various agencies and at the public hearing. They are:

•Stearns County submitted future plans to relocate County Road 158. County Road 158 will be relocated about 4,000 feet east of the existing road near Cold Spring.

•The west junction with County Road 140 was shifted about 62 feet west to minimize environmental impacts to a stream.

•In coordination with the Department of Natural Resources, a service road was designed to access the Scientific and Natural Area and private property. The service drive will connect to County Road 140 west.

•As a result of comments made at the open house, the intersection of Glencove Road was revisited. Glencove Road will no longer intersect with Highway 23. It will be constructed as a frontage road connecting to County Road 140 east. These changes were made to improve safety, minimize impacts to several property owners, to avoid a second channel crossing and to decrease impacts to a heavily forested area.

•At the request of the city of Rockville, a more sweeping curve was designed at the north intersection with County Road 140 east and existing Highway 23. This will directly connect the old alignment of Highway 23 at the west end of Rockville, to the new Highway 23 bypass.

•County State Aid Highway 47 was shifted slightly to have a better angle of approach at Highway 23.

•The relocation of the railroad spur from the city of Cold Spring to Cold Spring Granite west was eliminated by narrowing the median width and moving the roadway 10 feet south. This change was made to reduce costs.

•Several environmental agencies had concerns with the realignment of Highway 6 and Highway 23 intersection. The original alignment would bisect wetland areas north and south of Highway 23. The new alignment has less environmental, right of way, and farmland impacts.

•A curve on the Rockville bypass alignment was changed. This was done to minimize impacts to a farm. This change avoids impacts to a well and irrigation system and leaves a smaller part of the farm separated from the farmstead.

Project staging
Due to funding and project complexity, the start of the project construction schedule has been slightly shifted from the fall of 2000 to the spring of 2001. The stage one of construction is planned for 2001-2002. This work includes grading from Interstate 94 to the west junction with County Road 140 east of Cold Spring. Stage two will follow in 2002-2003. This stage includes paving the graded portion of Highway 23 and constructing a frontage road between the west junction with County Road 140 and Chapel Street. Stearns County will build County Road 158 at this time.

Stage three consists of grading and paving Highway 23 between the west junction with County Road 140 and existing County Road 158. The bridge over the Sauk River in Cold Spring will also be replaced. This stage is planned to take place in 2003-2004.

Stage four will occur in 2004-2005. The grading and painting will be done from existing County Road 158 to Richmond.

The new frontage road, County Road 158 and Highway 2 and 140 will be used as detours during the first and third stages of construction.

Any questions or comments regarding the Highway 23 corridor project between I-94 and Richmond should be directed to Curt Kreklau, P.E., project manager, MnDOT District 3, 3725 12th Street N, St. Cloud, MN 56303 or phone 320-255-2909 or 1-800-657-3961.

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