MnDOT proposes rerouting Highway 67 in Yellow Medicine County due to slope failure
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is proposing to reroute a portion of Highway 67 in Yellow Medicine County that has been closed since April 2019 due to a slope failure. The financial and environmental costs to repair the affected 1,000- to 1,500-foot segment of roadway are too great, according to MnDOT.
GRANITE FALLS — The Minnesota Department of Transportation is proposing to permanently reroute a portion of state Highway 67 due to a slope failure considered too costly to fix.
The slope failure has created a nearly four-foot-deep gash in a portion of the highway immediately south of the main entrance to the Upper Sioux Agency State Park, as well as a smaller split in the roadway a few hundred feet away. The highway has been closed at the site since April 2019.
The financial and environmental costs to repair the slope failure are too great, according to Cody Brand, project manager with the Minnesota Department of Transportation in District 8. Brand told members of the Granite Falls City Council on Monday that the department is planning instead to reroute the highway. It carries a low volume of traffic, with an average daily vehicle count ranging from 400 to 600.
The approximate eight-mile segment of highway from Granite Falls to the state park would be maintained by MnDOT as a separate trunk. The segment of highway serves the Upper Sioux Community’s main residential area, community center and offices, and other private residences along the way. It connects Granite Falls to the state park and continues over the Yellow Medicine River to Echo and Redwood Falls.
Brand said MnDOT is looking at using Highway 274 and either Yellow Medicine County Road 18 or County Road 2 for the rerouted portion of the highway. Rerouting the highway would carry minimal costs compared to fixing the slope area, he said.
Brand said MnDOT has advised the Upper Sioux Community’s tribal board of trustees and the state park system about its plans. It is now reaching out to other stakeholders to inform them of the plans and will soon gather public input.
MnDOT had placed sensors nearly 100 feet deep at four locations along the impacted area when the slope failure was discovered in early 2019. The sensors revealed that movement was occurring deep under the road surface. An initial report indicated that it would require sinking pilings as much as 90 feet deep while taking steps to stabilize the bank of the nearby Yellow Medicine River to repair the road.
With the closing of the road, MnDOT is also looking at the possibility of eventually removing the Highway 67 bridge located just south of the separate entrance to the Upper Sioux Agency State Park campground on the Yellow Medicine River. A hillside is pushing on abutments to the bridge — built in 1992 — and threatens the bridge. It will be very costly to protect the bridge. If Highway 67 is rerouted and closed at the site, MnDOT is not likely to invest in such a costly project, Brand said.
The highway splits the state park, and has served as the connection between the park’s main office and the campground accessed by the separate highway entrance. The state park is looking at the possibility of using a trail built on the original roadbed of Highway 67 to connect the office and that campground. The 1,000- to 1,500-foot segment of Highway 67 impacted by the slope failure was built in 1933.