Sometimes I have to struggle to find a topic for an opinion piece.

This isn’t one of those times.

The Jordan City Council met on Monday, July 20. The agenda for the meeting shows nothing about the Highway 21 bridges — as if that would stop the council members from talking about them.

Councilor Will expressed the opinion that the railroad bridge, now complete, is too narrow. Councilors Goebel, Stier and Whipps chipped in their comments.

It may come as a surprise to them that MnDOT did exactly what it said it was going to do. No more. No less. I’m not a big fan of MnDOT, but in my experience every time they’ve been involved in a project in or around town, they’ve always held informational and planning sessions with the City Council and residents.

The Highway 21 bridge project is no exception.

The last paragraph of the JI story says “In search of answers, the Council invited MnDOT representatives to a future City Council meeting to address their concerns.”

If I were MnDOT, I’d tell the council to go fish.

In the interest of clarity, let’s discuss some of those concerns.

First, is the traffic deck of the railroad bridge wide enough? It’s a bit over 30 feet wide. A big rig might be 8 ½ feet wide. Times three equals 25 ½ feet. Three semis (or two semis and a fire engine on the bridge in unison would be snug, but doable. MnDOT weighed the likelihood of two semis meeting on the bridge, and impeding the path of an emergency vehicle, deemed it unlikely, and decided it wasn’t worth the extra expense to make the bridges wider. Don’t like it? Should have said so before the concrete was poured.

Councilor Stier commented many trucks go on that road, not just fire trucks. I doubt that’s news to MnDOT.

Councilor Goebel said he thought MnDOT was trying to forcefully lower speeds. Indeed. MnDOT said as much in their informational meetings. The speed of traffic coming into Jordan on 21 has long been a sore point. The city has done little or nothing to enforce the speed limit there. Why fault MnDOT for doing what they said they would do.

Councilor Will also said the bike paths in downtown Jordan are about half the size of the new path. Well, yes. But there are six-foot wide sidewalks on both sides of Broadway/21 through downtown. Plus, there are two three-foot wide bike paths. That’s roughly 18 feet of pavement for pedestrians and bikes. The sidewalk on the bridge is about nine feet wide — for pedestrians and bikes. Will also said bikes don’t pay taxes, which is true. What he fails to mention is that city councils for years have worked to make Jordan pedestrian and bike friendly. Generally speaking, green cities are pedestrian and bike friendly. Is all the “Green Step” brouhaha just so much window dressing? Will said “I’m not here to bash MnDOT’s work. I’m here to protect the citizens of Jordan.”

Unless they’re walking, or riding bikes, it would seem.

Councilor Whipps’ comment related to MnDOT’s planned 282 reconstruction in Downtown. At least the concrete hasn’t been poured on that one. If the council is concerned about the 282 plan, they should turn up the heat now.

The Quote: “Adventure is just bad planning.” -Roald Amundsen

Thom Boncher is a retired marketing communications manager, former Jordan City Council member and Jordan resident since 2003.

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