Cars drive past First Street that's located near downtown Byron, but technically in Kalmar Township. Photo by David Richards
By David Richards
At an emergency city council meeting April 2 at city hall, the Byron city council adopted a resolution that will keep a township road open for both right and left turns.
The road, First Street in Kalmar Township, connects with 10th Avenue and is located close to where the new roundabout will go as part of the Frontage Road renovation this summer.
In reviewing the project, officials for the Minnesota Department of Transportation felt the township road will be too close to the roundabout site and suggested the city extend the median closest to that road and make First Street a right in, right out only.
That proposal was disliked by all three homeowners on First Street, including Jim and Jan Halfman, who have lived there for 35 years. Jan Halfman said that with the proposal, if she were to drive to the grocery store, on her return home she would have to then cross Highway 14 just to turn around.
"It would be too inconvenient," she said.
The resolution passed by council essentially rejects the MnDot proposal and states that the current plan works because average daily traffic for the intersecting township road is very low; the lane width of southbound 10th Avenue northeast allows for bypassing of left turning vehicles; and the township road will be shifted approximately 12 feet within the existing township right-of-way.
The resolution, which council approved by a 3-1 margin, also includes an indemnification portion, which releases the state from any legal action if a motorist or homeowner were to sue MnDot following an accident at that location.
"The City further agrees to defend at its sole cost and expense any action or proceeding commenced for the purpose of asserting any claim arising as a result of the granting of this proposal," the resolution states.
The city called the emergency meeting in order to have a council decision before the bid process ends this month for the project that is slated to start after Memorial Day Weekend and finish in November.
Council members Matt Brekke and Bob Meyer supported the resolution, as did mayor Ann Diercks.
Brekke noted the homeowners' disapproval of MnDot's recommendation of closing left-turn access to the road and added that the roundabout should also slow traffic down.
"If one year, two years, five years down the road, the people who live down that street come to us and say, 'it isn't working,' then we'll revisit it," Brekke said.
Councilman Jason Snow voted against the resolution, and councilman Brett Baumbach wasn't present.
"I have a hard time going against MnDot's recommendation," Snow said.