Intersection survey approved

Corner could get 90 degree angle next year

Staff photo by Fritz Busch District 15B Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, second from right, discuss safety issues at the intersection of State Highway 4 and Brown County Road 22, several miles south of Sleepy Eye July 14. From left, Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens, Brown County Commissioners Brian Braun and Jeff Veerkamp, far right and Pat Goblirsch, center.

NEW ULM — By a 4-1 vote Tuesday, Brown County commissioners approved a county highway department survey to realign the MN 4/CSAH 22 intersection to 90 degrees.

The intersection is about seven miles south of Sleepy Eye.

Action came on a motion by Commissioner Brian Braun, seconded by Scott Windschitl to begin work to replace the skewed intersection as early as 2026.

“Give (Intersection changes) a chance to work,” said Commissioner Berg.

“Crashes can happen even at 90 degree intersections,” said Berg.

Brown County Highway Engineer Wayne Stevens said survey work could begin this year and construction could start in 2026 if work is approved by the county board, Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and affected landowners.

Stevens said he would also ask a MnDOT engineer about adding a “cross traffic does not stop” signs on CR 22 at the intersection, although an earlier request for them was denied.

“This project is a priority for me. It’s public safety. I agree we have to do something. We’re playing Russian roulette,” said Commissioner Braun.

“Obviously, it’s a bad intersection. It won’t change if we don’t do something. I think the right thing to do is square it off,” said Commissioner Scott Windschitl.

“Get it done if you can,” said Dean Schumacher, who owns property southeast of the intersection.

Commissioner Tony Berg cast a dissenting vote, saying crashes could happen even at 90-degree intersections.

A total of 13 crashes in 10.5 years occurred at the intersection, according to a MNDOT MN 4 and Brown CSAH 22 Intersection Safety Evaluation released May 31.

The predominant crash involves a vehicle westbound on CSAH 22 stopping, pulling out and colliding with a vehicle southbound on TH 4. State Highway 4 is at a skew, causing vehicles to be hidden behind vehicle windshield posts.

“The predominant crash trend was angle type crashes in nine of 13 crashes resulting in five minor injury crashes, three property damage only crashes,” read the evaluation.

Safety improvements planned to be part of the MN 4 Sleepy Eye to St. James highway project this year including installing CR 22/TH 4 intersection lighting and moving the CR 22 stop bar closer to the intersection to help westbound drivers see further around the curve to the north, giving them more time to decide if it’s safe to enter the intersection or not.

Intersection lighting reduces crashes by 20% during all hours of the day, according to the MnDOT evaluation.

In a field investigation, MnDOT staff noticed an existing black and white delineator attached to the westbound stop sign blocked sight lines of oncoming southbound traffic. MnDOT staff lowered the delineator so it is out of the sight line.

“Sight distances were checked at the intersection. After moving the delineator out of the sight line, ample distance exists for driver’s to see oncoming traffic,” read the MnDOT evaluation.

Common safety enhancements that would not be feasible for the MN 4/CSAH 22 intersection according to the evaluation are LED enhanced stop signs, in-lane transverse rumble strips, rural intersection conflict warning systems (RICWS) and roundabouts.

The evaluation stated that LED enhanced stop signs and in-line transverse rumble strips would not help drivers see oncoming traffic any more easily.

In addition, MnDOT reported that rural intersection conflict warning systems had no discernable safety benefits and a roundabout is not a feasible option due to the high cost of construction and close proximity of a bridge east of MN 4.


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