Typically, after a road project that has made significant changes to the route is completed, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is asked to conduct a speed study to determine whether the posted speed is proper for the new conditions.
Wright County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins has filed a pair of speed study requests with MnDOT this week in the Albertville-Otsego area.
The roads in question are a one-mile segment of CSAH 19 in Albertville from CSAH 37 to CSAH 38 and a 5.3-mile segment of CSAH 38 in Otsego from CSAH 19 to Hwy. 101. The segment of CSAH 19 in the study currently has a posted speed limit of 45 miles per hour and CSAH 38 is posted at 50 miles per hour from CSAH 19 to Martin Farms Avenue and the statutory speed limit of 55 mph from that point east through Hwy. 101 to CSAH 42.
Hawkins said he isn’t positive what the results of the speed study will be, but wouldn’t be surprised if one or both of the roads has the speed limit lowered by five miles per hour.
“We think it could change it lower, but we just want it to be what is appropriate,” Hawkins said. “55 miles per hour on a rural county highway is the highest it can go. But, with these improvements – we’re doing roundabouts, making a four-lane section on CSAH 19 and we’re putting in curb and gutter. Traffic there feels more confined. Generally people drive slower there and we’re adding multiple roundabouts, so we felt a speed study should be done because there have been multiple construction projects since the last speed study.”
The reason for requesting the speed study is due to significant changes that have been made to both roadways and Hawkins’ top priority with all county highways and county roads is safety. Since MnDOT is the only organization in the state that sets speed limits, it seems appropriate to get on MnDOT’s radar now.
“The idea of having speed studies done is simply to determine what a safe speed for a roadway is,” Hawkins said. “Both these segments will have been changed significantly over the last few years and, when it’s done, we’re hoping that MnDOT will get its speed study done quickly and we’ll see then if the speed limits will remain the same or go down. Safety is the only reason for these, because we want to be certain they’re posted at a speed that provides the most safety for drivers.”
While it may seem a bit premature for the study to be done, Hawkins said getting in the request now is because of the backlog of speed study requests MnDOT is always dealing with. By the time the Wright County requests make it to the top of the list, it could be some time down the road, so now is the appropriate time to get Wright County into MnDOT’s project queue.
“It usually takes a year at a minimum,” Hawkins said. “Some take longer. It all depends on how many studies MnDOT has going at any given time and how busy they are. MnDOT does all speed studies, so a lot of it will depend on how many others are in line in front of us. We just want to get our speed study requests on their list and hope it gets completed sooner than later.”