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Officials: Safer intersection would help Zumbrota

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials say the plan is to eventually eliminate Highway 52 access from County Road 68 in Zumbrota by building a bridge over the busy stretch of road.

Something needs to change at Highway 52 and County Road 68 in Zumbrota.

Mayor Richard Bauer said city officials were given a painful reminder several years ago when a Fortune 500 company decided not to move its business to the growing city's industrial park west of the intersection.

"The access is what killed it for us," said City Administrator Neil Jensen. "The intersection is dangerous."

City and Goodhue County officials want to improve the crossing, making access to the small industrial park safer and easier so the city can attract more businesses.

Earlier this month, Zumbrota City Council members threw their support behind a plan to use city money to extend utilities out to the area, already home to Schwan's and VersaCold.

Goodhue County commissioners learned more about potential improvements last week but did not decide whether they would use county dollars to fund part of the project.

"They've had businesses knock on the door and they had to turn them away," said Greg Isakson, Goodhue County Public Works director. "We need to get that area ready so if someone came knocking on the door we could say, 'Yes we have a hard road and utilities going through out there. You can start building.'"

Zumbrota's modest industrial park is separated from the rest of the city by Highway 52. The area has been plagued by crashes in years past, Isakson said.

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials want to eliminate Highway 52 access from County Road 68 someday.

Isakson said the industrial park would be accessible by a bridge over the highway.

Phase one of that project would limit access at the intersection and extend Highway 68 west and south to Highway 60.

Goodhue County would pay more than $1.7 million for that portion of the project. MnDOT would contribute up to $400,000, Isakson said.

"We're attempting to make it safer, make it an industrial park and save some money," Jensen said.

MnDOT's Kristine Hernandez, District 6 public affairs official, said the agency also is planning safety improvements at the intersection over the next few years, including an acceleration lane and extended turn lane.