Questions and answers
Why was this project initiated?
The intersection of Highway 10 and Otter Tail County Road 60 has a history of high crash rates marked by serious crashes. Because of this, it is ranked the number one priority intersection for Otter Tail County and ranked the number two intersection in MnDOT District 4's Safety Plan.
What is an RCI and why is it proposed here?
A Reduced Conflict Intersection (RCI) converts side street thru-travel and left-turn movements into right turns, followed by a U-turn. This series of movements reduces side street delays. It seems counterproductive, we know, because you're lengthening the route it takes to make a left-turn or thru-movement. But, overall, it reduces the time it takes to safely cross one direction of traffic at a time.
At the Highway 10/County Road 60 intersection, side street left turns and thru-movements are the most common generator of serious crashes.
Why build an RCI?
RCIs have been proven to improve safety by reducing crash potential at intersections. They are built so drivers from the side street only have to be concerned with one direction of traffic on the highway at a time. Drivers always make a right turn, followed by a U-turn.
On a national scale, in locations where an RCI has been constructed, there has been:
- 50% reduction in injury crashes
- 70% reduction in fatal crashes
- 35% reduction in total crashes
To date, RCIs built in Minnesota have resulted in a 100% reduction in fatal crashes at those locations.
More information on these type of intersections can be found at mndot.gov/roadwork/rci.
What is a Median U-Turn (MUT) Intersection?
A Median U-Turn (MUT) is an intersection design that restricts left turns at an intersection, but allows the same movement downstream via a U-turn. The MUT falls under a group of strategies often referred to as conflict point management. The goal of a MUT is to restrict or relocate certain movements to improve a road’s overall safety and reduce delays. The basic MUT restricts the incoming and outgoing side streets to right turn movements only. Vehicles that want to turn left, or cross to the opposite side street, must do so indirectly by first turning right onto the main highway, moving into the left lane to complete a U-turn, and then traveling back to the opposite side street intersection. The MUT also relocates the main highway's left turns onto the side street to the U-turn location.
What is a Restricted Crossing U-turn (RCUT) Intersections - also known as J-turns or Superstreet?
A Restricted Crossing U-turn (RCUT) intersection is a type of RCI design that's used primarily on four-lane divided highways. RCUT intersections differ from conventional intersections by re-routing left-turn and thru-movement vehicles from the side road. Motorists approaching the divided highway from the side road are required to turn right and then make a U-turn at a designated median opening. With the RCUT, motorists on the main highway are still able to make a left turn at the side street intersection.
What other options were considered?
As part of its comprehensive review of design options for this intersection, MnDOT compared the RCI design with several other alternatives. Traffic modeling indicated that an RCI would reduce rear-end crash potential by 45-90% and reduce travel time by 10-23% when compared to traditional concepts like traffic signals and roundabouts.
Signalization of the intersection was one of the first options considered for this project. Typically, traffic signals are a cost effective way to improve intersection safety. However, due to the rural location of this intersection, MnDOT considered that drivers would not expect to encounter a signal and crashes would likely increase on Highway 10.
Signal prioritization would also have to be given to the railroad, which runs along the north side of Highway 10, across the north leg of County Road 60. This would cause delays on Highway 10 whenever a train comes through the area.
Due to traffic counts at this intersection, it would be hard to justify the construction of a new interchange, which would likely run between $10 to $20-plus million to build. There would also be major right-of-way impacts, and the overall planning process would be long and tedious.
Complete closure of intersection
During a study of the intersection, it was recommended that MnDOT District 4 close this intersection completely. Although likely the safest option because it would eliminate any cross-traffic turning movements, we knew that would have significant impacts to the local traffic commuting daily to other parts of the area.
Safety is always our top priority, but transportation plays a key role in the local economy. We knew there were other options that would improve safety, while also maintaining access to County Road 60.
How will this project be paid for?
The project will be funded by federal safety dollars and MnDOT.
When will the project be constructed and what are the impacts?
The project is scheduled to be constructed in the summer of 2024. A detour is not expected. Single-lane closures will likely occur in all directions.