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 travelling at 31 mph to 75 percent when struck by a vehicle travelling 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
How are emergency vehicle needs met? What should drivers do when an emergency vehicle is behind them or coming toward them?
The center median and compact-roundabout center island were constructed with surmountable curb and paved to accommodate traffic when needed. Emergency vehicles can travel on and over the raised median and center island as needed to get around vehicles or make left turns. MnDOT coordinated with the city’s emergency services and they did not foresee any issues with the constructed design.
If in one of the compact roundabouts, drivers should continue their movement. After exiting the compact roundabout, or if not at one of those three intersections, drivers should pull over close to the curb on the right side of the road. The emergency vehicle will make use of the center median if needed to go around stopped vehicles. This action is appropriate whether the emergency vehicle is in front of the driver or behind the driver.
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. Mail and delivery trucks are generally 15 to 25 feet in length depending on the amount and type of packages being delivered. A delivery truck will be able to use the driveway opening to partially remove the truck from the driving lane, allowing space for other vehicles to go around it.
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?
Although Hwy 316 is opened to through traffic again, there are a few items to finish and clean up before the project is fully completed. This work includes items like installing permanent pavement markings and some landscaping tasks. The roadwork itself is completed.
For the remaining work, the contractor is expected to need temporary lane closures, generally during non-peak periods.