MnDOT holds Highway 12 open house

Event centers on closures expected for concrete median barrier and turn lane projects

A resident points to plans while asking a question of a MnDOT representative at the open house. (Pioneer photo by Sean Miner)
A resident points to plans while asking a question of a MnDOT representative at the open house. (Pioneer photo by Sean Miner)
by Sean Miner
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To give locals an idea of what to expect on Highway 12 in the coming months, the Minnesota Department of Transportation held an open house on July 27 at Orono City Hall.

The event provided information on two projects. The first, installing left turn lanes where Hwy. 12 meetings County Road 92, began on July 20 and is expected to be complete by the end of August. The second, which will install a concrete median barrier on the highway between County Roads 112 and 6, is slated to begin this September and is projected to be complete in mid-October.

Each of the projects is expected to improve safety conditions on Highway 12, particularly in areas where serious collisions, many of them head-on, occur. Those collisions, according to a MnDOT audit released last summer, factor into fatal crashes occurring nearly twice as often on stretches Highway 12 as compared with similar roadways statewide.

These concerns have been raised, and change with regard to them lobbied for, extensively by members of the Highway 12 Safety Coalition, which is composed mainly of public safety agencies in the area. The second project, projected to cost $2.3 million, will be paid for by MnDOT by way of federal funds.

According to MnDOT Public Affairs Coordinator Susan Young, the open house was successful, in part because those who attended were generally in support of the project.

“I did get a sense, from talking with the MnDOT project representatives, that people were very happy that the barriers will be installed,” said Young.

Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok talks over the median barrier project with citizens at the open house. (Pioneer photo by Sean Miner)
Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok talks over the median barrier project with citizens at the open house. (Pioneer photo by Sean Miner)
The eventual changes on the highway are important to the long term safety of the road, but much of the focus of the meeting was devoted to road closures during construction. Given the barrier’s location between the two lanes of traffic, motorists will be routed onto CSAH 112 during the full closures expected during construction.

“That’s kind of the goal of these — it’s sharing that information,” said Young of the open house and similar events. “What types of closures, when, things like that, and it gives residents a chance to ask specific questions themselves, and share if they have any concerns.”

Specific dates for closures are not yet available, but will be posted online as construction nears and eventually begins. This and other information on the two projects described here can be found here.