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Jurgens reaches agreement with MnDOT for Highway 316 speed limit

Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, has reached an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Transportation regarding a proposed speed limit increase on Highway 316 in Hastings. MnDOT has agreed to not raise the speed limit in the area until after a safety study has been completed.

"I appreciate that MnDOT was willing to continue meeting and talking about this and the involvement of the city as well ... I think we got to a resolution where everybody wins," Jurgens said.

Hastings Mayor Paul Hicks had submitted a letter to the committee on behalf of the Hastings City Council. It stated that the council appreciates MnDOT's efforts to compromise, but reiterated its concerns about safety.

Hicks said that the discussion between all parties was good and the resolution is agreeable.

"I think (the resolution) is very consistent to the position of the city of Hastings," Hicks said.

In a letter from MnDOT addressed to Hicks, MnDOT said that they have a resurfacing project scheduled in fiscal year 2021 for Highway 316. The project manager will work with city staff to develop public involvement in the design of the project. The letter continued to say that safety elements such as turn lanes, intersection control, lighting, pedestrian accommodations and more will be evaluated. Drainage and city utility needs will also be evaluated as part of the project.

MnDOT said that a new speed study on the portion of Highway 316 within the city limits will be conducted following the installation of safety improvements.

The agreement was made following a bill that Jurgens moved through the Minnesota House of Representatives that would force MnDOT to hold off on its proposed speed limit increase on Highway 316. The one-page bill he introduced put a moratorium on adjusting the speed limit and demanded a legislative report and also required MnDOT to hold at least two hearings in Hastings regarding the speed limit adjustments.

During the conversations with MnDOT, Jurgens said that he thought they were close to an agreement about two weeks ago when MnDOT suggested that they would wait to raise the speed limit until after the resurfacing project in 2021. Jurgens said that he felt postponing a speed limit increase wouldn't solve anything.

"This is, and always has been, about safety so that needed to be part of the agreement," Jurgens said.

Once MnDOT agreed to conduct a new speed study and work with city staff, Jurgens agreed that the resolution would work for all parties.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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