Discussion took place at the Nov. 19 Mille Lacs County Board meeting regarding the proposed Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) reduced conflict intersections. The proposed intersections would be located at Hwy. 169 and Mille Lacs County Road 11 north of Milaca, Hwy. 169 and County Road 12 south of Pease and Milaca, and Hwy. 169 and County Road 13 at Long Siding, south of Milaca. The county’s contribution to the intersections is $143,344.85.
Concerns of adequate turning space for larger vehicles/trailers including farming vehicles and semi-trucks/trailers, along with concerns of impeding access to adjacent businesses were brought up at county board.
Mille Lacs County Commissioner Phil Peterson noted, “Most people at the meeting (referring to the open house in Milaca on Nov. 13 hosted by MnDOT) were not happy and had concerns about farm equipment. If we don’t pay, will it go away?”
Mille Lacs County Public Works Director and Interim County Engineer Holly Wilson responded, “I don’t know that we have a lot of say in if we contribute or not.”
Pat Oman, county administrator, added that MnDOT will likely find a way to make sure the county participates financially. “We had a lot of representation from township supervisors, and when we talked to MnDOT, they did say they are taking the input under advisement.”
Mille Lacs County Commissioner Tim Wilhelm said, “I would agree with Phil. MnDOT did nothing we recommended. They did nothing to make it a safer intersection. I think we shouldn’t sign this or give them the money out of protest.”
County commissioner Roger Tellinghuisen said that several months ago, they brought up the suggestion to make the turning lanes wider so farm equipment and semi-trucks could easily turn around.
Commissioner Genny Reynolds added, “I did talk to the engineer, and some of the cost is moving the county roads so there is better visibility both ways.”
Commissioner Peterson said, “I understand the concern for safety, but if they are not going to change the dynamics, it would be a negative effect on business owners. I don’t think we should approve any part of this until we get firm answers from MnDOT.”
Wilson noted, “T-bone crashes are more severe. That is the intention of reduced conflict intersections.”
Commissioner Reynolds added, “Anoka County has two reduced conflict intersections but have noticed a few more fender benders. There is a learning curve for training the public how to use it.”
Commissioner Tellinghuisen responded, “There is a gravel pit [nearby], and it’s a farming community which you don’t have in Anoka. I think we deserve to get the answers we need.”
The county board voted on the resolution to support the project and provide funds, and the resolution was not adopted with all commissioners voting “no” except Genny Reynolds. The resolution will be looked at again at the Dec. 11 board meeting.