Dakota County: Crossing will get a new look
Getting from Farmington to Vermillion or Hastings will be a little trickier in the future, thanks to some changes the Minnesota Department of Transportation is making along Hwy. 52.
County State Aid Highway 66 connects Farmington, from Hwy. 3, to CSAH 62 in Vermillion. As part of that route, drivers have to cross the four-lane Hwy. 52.
But MnDOT has decided drivers will no longer be able to make a straight connection on CSAH 66 by crossing Hwy. 52.
From 2006 to 2010, there were 27 crashes at that intersection. Of those, 16 were right-angle, “T-bone” types of crashes, according to MnDOT’s Kirsten Klein. To alleviate those kinds of crashes, MnDOT is installing what it calls a “reduced conflict intersection” at Hwy. 52 and CSAH 66.
Construction of the new intersection began April 17, Klein said, and is expected to last through mid-May. In that time, both east- and westbound traffic is being rerouted south, to CSAH 47, which travels through Hampton.
When the project is complete, motorists coming from either direction will be able to access both the north- and southbound lanes of Hwy. 52. Likewise, drivers on Hwy. 52 will still be able to access east- or westbound CSAH 66.
However, they will no longer be able to directly cross Hwy. 52 on CSAH 66.
Instead, in order to get across Hwy. 52, motorists will be re-routed a little further down the road to new U-turn lanes, being built as part of the reduced conflict intersection.That means drivers traveling eastbound from Farmington to Vermillion will have to turn right on southbound Hwy. 52, merge to the left lane and enter the designated U-turn lane. After completing the U-turn, motorists will travel northbound and be able to make the right-hand connection onto eastbound CSAH 66, and continue into Vermillion. Motorists from the east will turn onto northbound Hwy. 52, make the U-turn, and travel south back to CSAH 66.
It may sound confusing at first, but the reduced conflict intersections work, Klein said.
“We have them in several locations, so we do know they’re successful, especially in areas where there is a higher rate of speed. Drivers can’t get the T-bone kind of accidents like we have seen in that area.”
According to MnDOT’s project information, a recent study showed a 70 percent reduction in fatal crashes, and a 42 percent reduction in injury crashes in areas where the reduced conflict intersections have been installed.
The project also calls for lighting at the CSAH 66/Hwy. 52 intersection.
A recent traffic study showed the average traffic count at the intersection to be approximately 28,000 vehicles per day.
Signs noting the detour routes went up early last week, but the detour route was changed within two days of the CSAH 66 intersection being closed.
The original detours on the west side of Hwy. 52 directed motorists to connect to CSAH 46 on the north, or CSAH 47 to the south via Co. Rd. 81. However, the detours were re-routed to Co. Rd. 79, which connects CSAH 66 to CSAH 47, on April 18. The detour was re-routed because Co. Rd. 81 has a five-ton weight restriction, while Co. Rd. 79 has a nine-ton restriction.
On the east side of the project, traffic is directed to CSAH 47 by way of Co. Rd. 85. Motorists from the west can also get to Vermillion by way of CSAH 46, then by taking Co. Rd. 85 south to CSAH 62, and going right into Vermillion.
The detours mean extra miles for motorists, but were planned due to the weight restrictions, Klein said. Semis and other heavy equipment cannot go onto five-ton roads.