The new segment of Highway 21 being built outside downtown Jordan may be too narrow for large trucks to safely navigate, several Jordan City Council members said earlier this week.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation began work this spring on replacing two bridges along Highway 21 between Sawmill Road and Mill Street. The project will repave the surface and add a bike path alongside the highway, narrowing the road.
MnDOT officials have said the narrowed road will improve safety by slowing traffic entering Jordan from the south, but Councilman Jeff Will Monday night said the narrow road raises other safety concerns.
“My opinion is that it’s extremely narrow,” Will said. “I’m not here to bash MnDOT’s work, I’m here to protect the citizens of Jordan.”
Will told the council after he visited the construction site and measured the road he is worried about firetrucks having safe enough clearance with other vehicles on the bridge.
“I’m going to feel really uncomfortable having (the city’s) $500,000 firetruck go screaming around that corner and not having enough space for an oncoming vehicle to get out of its way,” Will said. “You dent a fender or a bumper on one of those trucks and it’s going to cost you anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 to get it fixed on a half-million dollar vehicle.”
“Many, many trucks go on that road, not just fire trucks,” Councilman Terry Stier said.
Councilman Jeremy Goebel speculated MnDOT’s safety priorities may be misplaced.
“It’s a problem,” Goebel said. “I honestly have a hard time understanding how that can be standard. The only thing I can think of is they’re trying to forcefully lower speeds, but to me you make it more dangerous more than anything.”
Will also noted that just up the road, in downtown Jordan, the bike lane along Highway 21 is about half the size of the new path. He said MNDOT may be paying too much attention to bike traffic.
“Bicycles don’t pay taxes, cars do,” Will said. “They pay the road use tax and were taking all this property away from people who are paying for it for something people are not paying for.”
Councilman Robert Whipps was concerned that MnDOT’s 2021 Highway 282 reconstruction in downtown Jordan, which will also add a pedestrian path, may be just as narrow.
In search of answers, the council invited MnDOT representatives to a future city council meeting to address their concerns.