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home : columns : rahn larson July 21, 2017

5/10/2017 1:55:00 PM
A major road project in 2029?
In August of 2008, the Citizen carried a page 1 story announcing that the Windom-to-St. James Highway 60 four-lane expansion would start in 2013.
When that story broke  some readers rolled their eyes. Patience had worn thin.
I can't tell you how many times I repeated the phrase: "At least we're on the schedule."
That phrase comes to mind as we examine the page 1 story listing highway projects leading up to 2020. The list omits a big one that is not officially part of MnDOT's long-range plan - the 2029 project. I like to call it the "Ideal Highway 60 Overhaul Plan" (I-HOP).
Two years ago MnDOT officials met with the Windom city council to discuss I-HOP and the joint study that goes with it. No one is sure how the final product would look, but we heard MnDOT officials list examples such as the relatively recent St. Peter Highway 169 redevelopment.
Those who have driven through St. Peter can see that several access points were eliminated, while functional and attractive center islands were added.
"They (MnDOT officials) threw out an estimate of $100,000 for the study and were looking to cost-share that," Windom City Administrator Steve Nasby recalled. "The study would have to occur probably by 2023 or 2024."
In 2015, our city council set aside $10,000 to put toward a study. Last year, money was tight, so nothing was set aside. Whether the city will reserve funds in the coming years is anyone's guess.
It's not clear how the study impacts I-HOP's future. Possibly, as Nasby hinted, no city funding could mean no study and no study could mean no big project.
"We could end up with just another mill and overlay project," Nasby said. "They have other communities that want other things as well."
I'm guessing the Sioux City-to- Minneapolis diagonal four lane will bring much higher traffic volume through town and a greater appetite for change. It's a safe bet 2029 will be another big year for road construction in Windom.

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