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Dec. 7, 2021

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Hearing concerns, MnDOT to re-evaluate Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 safety improvement project

WILLMAR, Minn. – Hearing concerns from the New London City Council as well as the public about the Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 safety improvement project, MnDOT District 8 has made the decision to step back and pause the project.  This pause allows us to better understand the city of New London’s concerns and to take the necessary time to hear from the public and other key stakeholders.  Consequently, the J-turn safety improvement project at the intersection of Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 will not occur in 2022.

“We’ve made the decision to step back to have more discussion with the community and other stakeholders to assure all perspectives of the project are considered,” stated Jon Huseby, District Engineer.

In 2017, we engaged the community in a safety assessment of intersections along Hwy 23, including the intersection of Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 in New London.  At that time, the community’s priorities were to improve safety, keep traffic moving on Hwy 23 and help walkers and bikers safely cross Hwy 23 to get into New London. In conversations with the community since the completion of the safety assessment, concerns have been brought forward and we want to take the time to re-evaluate the safety options for the intersection and to have additional discussions as we realize that priorities may have changed.

“I want to be transparent about the fact that a J-turn design is still a viable option for the intersection and will be evaluated along with other safety improvement options.  MnDOT must balance the needs of many. Freight and other through traffic on Hwy 23 are also important stakeholders and their input will be sought as part of the process,” said Huseby. 

With the decision to pause the J-turn project, the intersection of Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 will remain substantially as is until the re-evaluation is complete.  Depending on the selected safety improvement option, construction of a safety improvement at the intersection of Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 could be delayed to 2024 or later.

There are some pieces of the overall safety project that will move forward on Hwy 9 during the summer of 2022.  The addition of dedicated left turn lanes at the Country Stop, construction of a mid-block pedestrian crossing in front of the New London Spicer School and mid-block pedestrian crossing near 3rd Avenue Southeast, and the replacement of portions of the retaining wall along the Mill Pond are still scheduled to be completed. 

MnDOT staff want to be thoughtful about how we engage with the community moving forward.  We need time to determine the best process but will be connecting back with the community soon on ways they can be involved.

For more information about the Hwy 23 and Hwy 9 safety improvement project, visit mndot.gov/d8/projects/hwy23newlondon or contact Ryan Barney, Project Manager, at ryan.barney@state.mn.us.

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