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Hopefully, new study results in better safety

The Minnesota Department of Transportation had a representative at the Tuesday, Nov. 21, McLeod County Board meeting to discuss its proposed 10-year improvement plan in Section 8, which includes our area.
While there are no major reconstruction projects planned in our immediate area, there was mention of a couple of targeted sites that could improve highway safety in our area.
With a little prompting from Commissioner Doug Krueger, who asked if the Chandler Avenue and Highway 212 intersection was “on the radar,” it was learned that MnDOT is, in fact, planning to do a safety study of the Highway 212 cooridor through Glencoe.
MnDOT has in the past tried to make improvements to Glencoe’s two main outlets to Highway 212 — Morningside Drive on the east end of the city and Chandler Avenue on the west. The Highway 212-Morningside intersection was made a four-way stop. The Chandler Avenue intersection was improved with lighted signs warning of oncoming traffic. And the speed limit of the highway in between the two was reduced to 55-mph from 65-mph.
MnDOT has long been loath to install four-way stops on highways, trying to balance safety with a need to keep traffic flowing. Sometimes, it’s been difficult to effect change.
Twenty years ago, there was a major drive in the Brownton area to install a four-way stop at the intersection of Highway 15 and Highway 212. That intersection was the site of frequent accidents, even after the installation of traffic warning lights and improved turn lanes. Eventually, it became obvious that only a four-way stop would significantly reduce accidents. And it has — while there is still an occasional fender-bender, serious-injury and fatal accidents have become virtually non-existent at that intersection.
The four-way stop at Morningside and 212 also seems to be more effective than the previous two-way stop. Most serious accidents at that intersection seem to be caused from westbound vehicles on Highway 212 with drivers who are unaware or who are oblivious to the upcoming stop. Otherwise, most of the accidents occur as drivers try to jockey their way through the intersection, unsure of whose turn it is, or who has the right of way, to enter the intersection. Hopefully, MnDOT can find a way to ease some of the confusion at that intersection.
Chandler Avenue is a whole different story. MnDOT has suggested a re-routing of Highway 22 with a new outlet to Highway 212 as a possible long-range solution. That may well be a solution, but we need more immediate action to reduce serious-injury and fatal accidents at that intersection.
Although none of us like to be slowed down on our commute, perhaps it would be wise to extend the 55-mph zone on Highway 212 all the way west to where Highway 22 splits and goes south to New Auburn. For those entering Glencoe from the west on Highway 212, the 55-mph zone starts about 100 yards west of the Chandler Avenue intersection. That leaves neither sufficient time nor distance to slow down as drivers approach the intersection. It also increases the probability of accidents as drivers try to switch lanes to turn north onto Chandler from the highway.
We were also pleased to learn that MnDOT is planning improvements at Highway 212 and County Road 1, east of town. That intersection, too, has been the site of numerous serious accidents.
MnDOT has promised that it will invite community involvement as it does its study. Make sure you take advantage of that opportunity. The end result could save your life, or that of someone you love.