Frequently asked questions
Why did the road change?
Hwy 316 provides a direct connection between Hastings and Red Wing. In 2015, MnDOT conducted a speed study on the entire length of Hwy 316 that included both the 55-mph section and the areas with a lower speed in Hastings. The result for that study was to raise the posted speed limit.
As MnDOT prepared to change the speed limit and complete a standard mill and overlay project, the community voiced their concerns about vehicle speeds, highway access during peak periods, walkability/bikeability, and other issues. MnDOT proceeded to work with the city, engage the public, and change the project to reflect local needs and wants.
As a result, MnDOT updated the project to a reconstruction and included elements like a center median and three compact roundabouts to address those primary needs. The newly opened highway is the result of MnDOT’s partnership with the city, engagement with the public and work to provide a facility that best serves the community.
What is a compact roundabout?
A compact roundabout is still a roundabout, although with a smaller size to better fit within the available public right of way. The smaller size allowed MnDOT to get the benefits of a roundabout (slower vehicle speeds, safer operations) without having to obtain land and more right-of-way from the surrounding residences and businesses, which would have caused additional impact to private properties.
Though smaller than other roundabouts, like those at Hwy 61/Jamaica Avenue in Cottage Grove, compact roundabouts offer plenty of space for safe navigation by all vehicles. Large trucks and busses can travel over the paved, concrete center island and approach medians to successfully complete their turns. These areas are raised to deter passenger vehicles from routinely driving straight through the intersection but designed to handle heavy vehicle movements.
The graphics below show an acceptable path of a semi-truck at the Hwy 316/Spiral Boulevard compact roundabout. As shown, the driver of a large vehicle should steer directly over the center island, using the approach medians as needed.
What is being done to reduce speeds?
Reducing vehicle speeds was a key issue brought forward by the community during the review and design of the new Hwy 316 corridor. High speeds increase the risk to drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. The average risk of severe injury for a pedestrian increases from 50 percent when struck by a vehicle traveling at 31 mph to 75 percent when struck by a vehicle traveling at 39 mph.
Unfortunately, posting signs with a lower limit does not result in lower speeds. In addition, no agency has the resources for 24/7 enforcement. Instead, the reconstruction of Hwy 316 included specific elements to physically calm traffic and reduce vehicle speeds, such as:
- Narrow lanes with a center median, and curb and gutter. Drivers typically drive faster with wider lanes and slower with narrower lanes. The enclosed feel of a narrow lane has been proven through research to reduce overall vehicle speeds.
- Compact roundabouts. The advisory speed for each compact roundabout along Hwy 316 is 20 mph. With three compact-roundabouts within a one-mile distance, drivers will need to slow down to maneuver through these intersections.
How is safety improved with the new road?
The new highway, including the three compact roundabouts, will improve safety by:
- Effectively slowing speeds
- Restricting left turn movements
- Providing adequate gaps to access Hwy 316
- Providing a trail to separate pedestrian and bicycle movements from the highway
- Allowing more opportunities for pedestrians and bicycles to cross the highway with adequate gaps in traffic flow and shortened crossing distances
Why can’t I make a left turn to or from some streets and driveways?
Compared to other movements at an intersection, the left turns from a side street or a driveway onto a highway are the most dangerous movement. As MnDOT talked with the community about issues on Hwy 316, left turn access onto the road was mentioned as being difficult, particularly during peak periods. We heard from many drivers who waited several minutes before a gap in highway traffic allowed for their turn.
Safety for the area is therefore increased by restricting left turning access with the center median. The compact roundabouts will allow homeowners and other drivers a safe and easy option for U-turn movements, maintaining the option to travel in any direction. From any location on Hwy 316, the travel time for a U-turn at the nearest compact roundabout is less than two minutes, comparable or even less than the wait for a left turn in the prior condition and much safer.
Why are trucks going over the center island/median? How do large semis or trailers get through the compact-roundabouts?
Though smaller than other roundabouts, like those at Hwy 61/Jamaica Avenue in Cottage Grove, compact roundabouts are designed for safe navigation by all vehicles. Large trucks can travel over the paved, concrete center island and approach medians to successfully complete their turns. These areas are raised to deter passenger vehicles from routinely driving straight through the intersection, but are designed to handle heavy vehicle movements.
The graphics below show an acceptable path of a semi-tractor trailer truck at the Hwy 316/Spiral Boulevard compact roundabout. As shown, the driver should steer the cab of the truck directly over the center island, using the approach medians as needed.
Use of these areas is intended and does not mean the compact roundabout was “designed wrong” or “not planned to accommodate trucks”. Trucks were a critical component of the design and are using the compact roundabout as expected when they travel over the center island.
Here are videos of truck movements at compact roundabouts in St. James, Minnesota:
- Large truck north-bound left turn to west-bound
- Large truck south-bound left turn to east-bound
- Small truck south-bound to west-bound right turn at east mini-roundabout
- Small truck south-bound to west-bound right turn at east mini-roundabout
- Small truck east-bound to north-bound left turn at east mini-roundabout
- Small truck east-bound through both mini-roundabouts
What should I do when an emergency vehicle is approaching either behind me or in front from the opposite direction?
We coordinated with emergencies services about the new design and the center median is designed for their use. Emergency vehicles can travel on and over the center raised median to get around vehicles or to specific streets as needed. Therefore, you should pull over the right side of the road and stop as you would on other roads.
If in one of the roundabouts, proceed as normal and exit the roundabout at the desired location. Do not stop in the roundabout circulating lane. Once beyond the roundabout, pull to the right and stop. A simulation showing roundabout interactions with emergency vehicles is located here for more information.
What if a school bus is stopped on the opposite side of the median?
If traveling behind a school bus and it activates its lights and crossing arm, prepare to stop. When the lights are flashing red and the stop arm is fully extended, stop at least twenty feet from the back of the bus. Wait to proceed until the bus starts moving after turning off its flashers and closes its stop arm.
If traveling in the opposite direction, you are now separated by a raised median, which means Hwy 316 is interpreted as a separated roadway. Due to this separation, it is unnecessary for drivers on the opposite side of the median to stop for the school bus when it is displaying red flashing lights and stop arm is extended.
In any case, please be aware of your surroundings and put away distractions. Motorists should always slow down and anticipate school children around school buses.
How will delivery trucks deliver packages?
At their connection to Hwy 316, each driveway includes a pavement taper or radius that increases the width to 28 feet or more. Delivery trucks are generally 15-25 feet in length depending on the amount and type of packages being delivered. A delivery truck driver can use the driveway opening to partially remove their truck from the driving lane, allowing space for other vehicles to go around it. Mailboxes at a handful of properties with direct access to Hwy 316 have been changed to Cluster Mailboxes nearby per discussions with the Hastings Post Office and how they want to deliver mail along the highway.
What if there is a funeral procession on Hwy 316?
If a funeral procession is approaching behind you, continue driving as normal to your destination. There is no need to stop within the Hwy 316 corridor. The procession will likely be moving at a slower pace, so traffic ahead of it is unlikely to hinder the procession.
If approaching a funeral procession on an intersection street or conflicting movement, traffic should yield to the procession and let all vehicles in the procession pass. This includes yielding at the roundabouts. Cars within the funeral procession should be close together, have their lights on, and may be further identified by magnetic flags on the lead and last car. Escort vehicles will also help hold and direct traffic at the roundabouts.
What happens on trash collection day?
Garbage is collected once a week by one hauler. Per our conversations with the company, their truck currently comes through the area first thing in the morning, before the a.m. peak period.
There are 15 driveways on the northbound side of Hwy 316 and six driveways on the southbound side. These driveways are generally located between Malcolm Ave. and 33rd St. During garbage and recycling collection, the collection trucks will slow traffic on Hwy 316 as they stop at each driveway.
The typical collection truck takes about 10 to 15 seconds to empty the bin and put it back on the driveway. This means a motorist traveling behind a truck collecting at all driveways would experience about a four-minute delay when traveling northbound; 90-second delay when traveling southbound.
How will the road and compact-roundabouts be plowed?
Hwy 316 will be plowed like any other MnDOT road. MnDOT trucks will plow the highway and the compact-roundabouts, keeping the center island as clean as possible at all times. The city trucks will plow the side streets and approaches to the highway.
Watch this video for an example of a MnDOT truck plowing a compact roundabout.
Is there still construction work on Hwy 316 planned for 2022?
Yes, although Hwy 316 was opened to through traffic in November 2021, we always planned on finishing a few items this year. With the time to observe traffic operations over the winter, and additional feedback from the City of Hastings, Hastings Chamber of Commerce and the drivers of commercial trucks, we also agreed to a couple other changes to improve traffic flow. The remaining work includes modifications at two intersections, installing permanent pavement markings, updating a few roadway signs, and some landscaping tasks. A separate contract toward the end of summer will improve drainage at the south end, which extends beyond the limits of the primary Hwy 316 project.
The contractor is expected to need temporary lane closures during non-peak hours and short-term closures with local detours while the contractor completes the remaining tasks. Signs will likely be placed on either end of Hwy 316 to direct through traffic to stay on Hwy 61. However, we are not planning long-term closures as was needed in 2021.