MnDOT thanks public for input into Highway 23 safety improvements in New London

Jan. 20—NEW LONDON

— A decision on whether a roundabout or an interchange will be built at the

intersection of State Highway 23 and Highway 9

in New London could be made by early summer.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Friday that the public input portion of the re-evaluation of the safety improvement project at the concerning intersection has closed. MnDOT thanked everyone who participated, either by attending a public meeting or providing comment to MnDOT, along with the advisory group which analyzed potential safety improvements, considered public comment and gave input back to MnDOT.

No decision has been made on which safety improvement — interchange or roundabout — though MnDOT said it could come by June 2023. Going forward, MnDOT will be looking at potential funding sources for either project as well as starting the environmental process for each.

Construction on any major improvements won't start until at least 2024, if not later. However, MnDOT is moving forward with installing LED warning signs at the intersection as a short-term improvement while the major project is still being considered.

MnDOT had initially planned to construct a

J-turn at the intersection of Highways 23 and 9

, but intense public pushback had the department pause the project for re-evaluation back in December 2021. The decision was made in October 2022 not to construct a J-turn and attention turned to either a roundabout or interchange. Each choice comes with its own pros, cons and costs.

The interchange would reduce serious or fatal crashes by 77 percent, according to MnDOT, but would take five years or even longer to complete and cost between $20 million and $26 million. It would require the intersection to be redesigned, a bridge over Highway 23 to be constructed and the eastern portion of County Road 40 to be realigned.

The roundabout would be cheaper, at an estimated $7 million to $10 million, and take around three years to complete. According to MnDOT, serious or fatal crashes could be reduced by 83 to 86 percent, but would require through traffic on Highway 23 to slow down to navigate the roundabout.

The Kandiyohi County Board supports the interchange option and has submitted that improvement to the state for possible Corridors of Commerce funding, with a decision on that coming by early May.