YM County wants input as Highway 67 rerouted
MnDOT is in the process of informing stakeholders about the implications of rerouting Highway 67. A slope failure along a 1,000 to 1,500-segment of the road would cost an estimated $25 million to repair, leading MnDOT to look at rerouting that portion of highway and removing a 1992 bridge on it.
GRANITE FALLS — Yellow Medicine County wants to have its input as the Minnesota Department of Transportation decides how to reroute state Highway 67 between Granite Falls and Echo.
The county board of commissioners told Cody Brand, MnDOT engineer for the Highway 67 failure project, that they want to participate when the department hosts a public hearing on plans to reroute the highway. Brand outlined the plans to reroute the highway to the commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday.
The department is aiming to make a decision on a new route sometime this fall. It is now in the process of informing those affected about the plans for a new route.
The highway has been closed from a point just east of the entrance to the Upper Sioux Agency State Park to a bridge crossing the Yellow Medicine River near the park’s campground entrance. since April 2019. A 1,000- to 1,500-foot section of the roadway has two failure areas caused by movement occurring nearly 100 feet below the surface.
Brand told the commissioners that a consultant estimated it would cost $25 million to correct the slope failure. Along with drilling 100 feet deep to stabilize the failure area, a project to fix the slope would require stabilizing the banks of the nearby Yellow Medicine River. The river is moving closer to the roadway. Along with the financial costs, a project to repair the road would have environmental impacts to the area within the Upper Sioux Agency State Park.
MnDOT is looking at maintaining the existing Highway 67 from Granite Falls to the state park as a stub route. The approximate, eight mile stretch of highway serves the Upper Sioux Community’s main residential area, provides access to roads reaching Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort, and serves private residences located along the way.
Brand said the current plans call for turning a portion of Highway 274 into Highway 67. It would reconnect to Highway 67 by using either Yellow Medicine County Road 18 or County Road 2. The portion of Highway 67 from the bridge at the state park to either County Road 18 or 2 would be turned back to the county. The county would be responsible for maintenance and snow plowing on the turned back segment, which would be a total of 3.9 miles if County Road 18 becomes a new portion of Highway 67 or 6.9 miles if County Road 2 becomes a part of Highway 67.
Brand said MnDOT is also looking at removing the Yellow Medicine River bridge, which was built in 1992.
One of the more challenging aspects of rerouting Highway 67 is a proposal to develop a new roadway within the state park to connect the main office with the campground area. “Any sort of ground disturbance in this area has risks,” said Brand in reference to the cultural significance of the park grounds.
Brand said MnDOT is planning to follow the footprint of what had been the Highway 67 roadway before the present route was developed in the early 1930’s.
The eight-mile segment of Highway 67 from Granite Falls to the state park is currently part of the Minnesota River Valley Scenic Byway. The rerouting of Highway 67 will remove it from the byway. Brand said MnDOT has discussed the potential loss of this segment with the Upper Minnesota River Valley Regional Development Commission.
Brand told the commissioners that MnDOT placed four different sensors in the failure area last summer. The sensors measured six inches of movement deep below the surface, which translated into about three feet of movement on the road. This year there has been an additional three to four inches of movement below the surface.
“Yes, it is still moving and it is moving at a pretty decent rate,” Brand told the commissioners.