The State of Minnesota wants to give Faribault County a Christmas gift, but the county commissioners are not so sure they want to accept it.
The gift in question is State Highway 109, an 18-mile stretch of road from Winnebago to Wells.
Doug Haeder and Peter Harff of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) were at a special work session last Tuesday afternoon to discuss the proposal with the County Board.
Haeder calls the proposal a ‘turn-back,’ meaning the state would turn back ownership of the road to the county.
“About 10 years ago we started a highway study to develop a vision of the trunk highway system in the state,” Haeder told the board. “We determined which highways are arterial, and which are collectors.”
It makes sense to MnDOT, Haeder explains, that some roads should actually be county roads. Highway 109 is one of those.
“We call them ‘anomalies,’ sections of highways that don’t fit into the overall state highway system,” he says.
The two MnDOT engineers admitted that Highway 109 is in terrible shape, and needs to be redone.
Harff explained the proposed upgrade to the road, which, he says, will be done in the future whether the road is given to the county or not.
“We plan on milling off the current pavement, and grinding it up and using it as a base,” Harff told the commissioners. “Then we will do a five-inch bituminous overlay.”
He called it better than just an overlay, but short of a total reconstruction.
That got commissioners Tom Loveall and Tom Warmka to comment.
“I think it is like having a leaky barn on the farm,” Warmka comments. “You guys want to put new shingles on it, but the rafters are bad, too.”
Loveall agreed, saying the base is the problem, and needs to be redone.
Harff responded that they would be removing some base, down 13 inches, and also rebuilding some of the shoulders.
Plus, the road will be expanded from 24 feet wide to 28 feet, and shoulders to six feet.
Haeder admitted that the work is not yet on the immediate radar. It had been tentatively set for 2013, but now might be 2015.
“I just don’t see any advantage to the county to make this deal,” Loveall told Haeder. “What does it benefit us?”
The MnDOT engineers admitted that there wasn’t really any advantage to it.
“We are just asking you to consider this proposal,” Haeder says. Loveall thanked him for his honesty.
The board decided to study the proposal, and have a special committee composed of two commissioners and County Engineer John McDonald come back with a recommendation.
Haeder also told the board that there are several other roads in the county that the state wants to ‘turn-back,’ and that he might be back with more proposals in the future.
Those roads include a stretch of Highway 22 south of I-90, and portions of Highways 253 and 254.