Child clipped by a car at the Crailsheim-Oxford intersection where improvements will be made this summer

·3 min read

May 20—WORTHINGTON — A Worthington Middle School student got clipped by a car Wednesday at the intersection of Oxford Street and Crailsheim Road, lending new urgency to planned safety improvements there.

"Thank goodness the driver was paying attention," said John Landgaard, superintendent of District 518, during a regular meeting of a group composed of representatives from the district, Nobles County, the city of Worthington and Minnesota West Community & Technical College.

The student is fine, Landgaard said, partly because the attentive driver "saw it coming," and slowed down.

The middle-schooler had been walking on a steep sidewalk on the north side and decided to go back across the street, the superintendent said, and didn't listen to instructions given.

"You have to assume that the kids are not going to be paying attention," said Steve Robinson, Worthington city administrator.

Adult crossing guards have been stationed at the intersection and another crosswalk on Crailsheim after school and before school since the beginning of the school year.

The Nobles County Board of Commissioners has already approved improvements to the Oxford-Crailsheim intersection as well as improvements to Crailsheim Road in front of the Intermediate School, with the deadline for bids on the projects set for June 1. Bids could be approved at the following county board meeting, said Aaron Holmbeck, Nobles County engineer and director of public works.

The intersection revamp includes installing a new turn lane as well as access for a bus exit that also coincides with a new pedestrian crossing on Crailsheim in a safer location.

"The goal, long-term, is to actually work with the state to evaluate and develop an appropriate speed for the corridor," Holmbeck said, noting that beyond the schools in the area, residential developments are also being built. "And we want to see what unfolds, too, because ... you can see the opportunity for longer-term improvements that are even more significant down the road."

While safety is the dominant concern, traffic flow around the Oxford-Crailsheim intersection has also become a problem, as parents park along the shoulder of the road on the north side, impeding traffic.

The existing curb and gutter at the intersection will be extended west along the north side of Oxford Street, past the existing WMS entrance on the north side of the facility, and a left-turn lane will be placed there, Holmbeck explained.

"We're also looking at this one to reevaluate this long term," he added, noting that other options like changing the intersection to a roundabout could be considered for the future.

Speed reductions for Crailsheim Road are also possible, but the state of Minnesota will review the situation and evaluate speeds first.

In other news Friday, the group:

* Heard a presentation about child care from Alan Oberloh, representing the Worthington Investment Network, a private group of volunteer investors he co-founded in 2018. WIN has been working on affordable child care as well, and the group agreed to meet together in the future. Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle pointed out that the governmental entities do not want to own a child care business, and partnering with WIN could help.

* Talked about making changes to the Nobles Home Initiative, a tax abatement program intended to promote the construction of new homes within Nobles County.