Discussion about a new interchange in Jordan took a turn Monday night as Jordan City Council members rounded out funding risks associated with proposed plans.
Five plans are in the running for a long-awaited interchange at Highways 169 and 282 and County Road 9.
They range in price from $27 million to $40 million. About 80 percent of the interchange would be funded by the federal government and the rest by the state, county and city.
But the Minnesota Department of Transportation and city council are pushing two very different concepts.
MnDOT Acting South Area Manager Amber Blanchard wrote a letter to City Administrator Tom Nikunen saying the department doesn’t want to raise or realign Highway 169, as in two of the proposals, due to cost. There is a $13 million difference between Concept 3 and 3A and one that doesn’t raise Highway 169.
Tensions rose when the council talked about where the city could get funding. If the council decides to go with plans that raise Highway 169, it may not get funding from MnDOT.
“The hard part is that if we don’t come to an agreement on a design, we’d be in the same boat that we’ve been in for the past 20 years where we have designs that we want to see, but we’re not going to get any funding to sign off on it,” Nikunen said.
However, Council Member Jeff Will believes Concept 3 would be the best for the city.
Concepts 1 and 1A would bring County Road 9 and Highway 282 over Highway 169. Concept 1A would put a bridge over the railroad tracks running parallel to Highway 169.
Council Member Terry Stier favored plan 3A, but said MnDOT won’t want to do it because it raises Highway 169. Instead, MnDOT would prefer Concepts 1 and 1A, which don’t raise Highway 169.
“Which would make MnDOT happy and have them be more on board with doing it,” Stier said. “Is that what we want? No, probably not. However, if you want something to get done, sometimes you’ve got to negotiate.”
A wall was also a point of contention. In Concepts 1 and 1A, a 22-foot wall would be built, blocking the view of Wolf Motors and other businesses on that side of Highway 282.
“I’m trying to explain to you people that putting up a giant wall over the top of our highway commercial... is not a smart choice,” Will said.
Will said the city would be on the hook for paying $3 million for any of the concepts.
“So why not pick the one that works best for us?” Will asked.
Council Member Mike Franklin argued it was better to have a project, even if it’s Concepts 1 or 1A, than no project at all.
Will said they could try to get Concepts 3 or 3A, but if they don’t then the state can decide.
However, Mayor Tanya Velishek said if they don’t come to a consensus, they won’t get the funding. If the council and the state can’t agree on a concept, it could leave Jordan without an interchange or give the state full control, according to some council members.
“To me, it is to our advantage to come to a consensus here,” Council Member Brenda Lieske said.
The council will revisit the plans in December.