How will J-turns solve the problem?
In Minnesota, intersections treated with J-turns have, thus far, have shown a 100% reduction in fatal crashes. Additionally, right-angle crashes have been reduced by 77% and the total number of crashes occurring at intersections converted to J-turns have been reduced by 50%. These crash benefits are due to J-turns forcing side road traffic to only cross one set of highway lanes at a time. This allows motorists to concentrate on one direction of highway traffic, rather than trying to pick a gap in two opposing streams of highway traffic simultaneously.
Isn’t there another solution?
MnDOT has implemented all of the low-cost, high-benefit solutions available (LED STOP and YIELD signs and enhanced mowing). Other possible solutions, such as a reduced speed limit on Hwy 60 or warning signs in advance of the 10th St intersection would either exacerbate the problems being experienced and/or won’t yield the crash reduction benefits necessary to solve the problems at 10th St.
Won’t these improvements make it difficult for highway traffic to access Heron Lake?
No. The J-turns at 10th St and County Rd 24 won’t change how Hwy 60 motorists access Heron Lake. Highway traffic can still turn left and right at these locations, just as they do today. At 1st St, westbound Hwy 60 traffic would be prohibited from turning left, however this traffic can still turn left at 10th St or County Rd 24.
How far out of the way will traffic need to travel to get to the U-turn?
The U-turn locations will be approximately 600’ – 800’ away from the intersections. Additionally, they will be begin at the intersection, so side road traffic wanting to use the U-turn can cross directly into the left turn lane for the U-turn. This maneuver was made legal by the State Legislature in 2014.
Will these work for semis?
Yes, the intersections are designed to accommodate tractor/trailer combinations up to a length of 67’ (these movements are shown on the project concept drawing). Additionally, the left turn lanes which serve the U-turns provide storage for multiple trucks waiting to turn left or cross the highway (unlike the existing median openings). Take a look at the RCUT semitrailer visualization video to see how a semi would use the J-Turn.
What about agricultural equipment?
The project will include widening and reinforcing of the outside shoulders to a width of 10’ to facilitate agricultural equipment traveling on the shoulders. Additionally, the left turn lanes for the U-turns will be 14’ wide to help accommodate agricultural equipment.
How about ATVs?
Law enforcement recognizes that in order to cross the highway, ATVs will need to use the U-turn and thus won’t ticket an ATV for being in the left turn lane for the U-turn, or for traveling along the shoulder between the U-turn and the intersection.
How much will this cost the City of Heron Lake and/or Jackson County?
MnDOT will fund 100% of the construction costs for the project.