Tanya Velishek

Tanya Velishek became Jordan’s mayor in 2016. Velishek knew she always wanted to be a leader.

The City of Jordan has heard concerns from residents regarding unacceptable safety conditions at the intersection of Highway 282 and Creek Lane for over 10 years. The city was recently successful in receiving a $1 million grant from MnDOT through the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) for installation of a roundabout at the intersection to correct the safety issues and position the area for implementation of a future interchange at Highways 282 and 169. The grant is great news for those interested in increasing safety for motorists and pedestrians as well as increasing mobility along the highways and to businesses.

The Jordan Independent recently published an article from a guest columnist which provided some negative, uninformed, and inaccurate views regarding this positive development. I felt it appropriate to provide some facts regarding the planned improvements. The JI article asks: “Why does MnDOT want to give Jordan money to build a roundabout?” and “why is the city involved in the project at all?” The published article goes on to speculate on hidden agendas via ambiguous statements and unanswered questions.

The $1 million LRIP grant for the project was generated from the State Bonding Bill approved by the Legislature last summer. MnDOT gives LRIP money, not as a baited hook to trick cities into paying for other costs as the article suggested, but because MnDOT is required by the Legislature to competitively distribute this funding to address transportation needs on local roads where most needed. The city was successful in earning this funding after MnDOT reviewed 26 other competitive applications for similar projects in the metro area. The city gets involved in leading projects like this because if it did not, these competitive state funds would be used to solve other communities’ problems without benefit for Jordan’s taxpayers.

In addition to the $1 million grant for construction, a $125,000 grant was also recently secured from the Scott County CDA for design of the project. Even above and beyond that, MnDOT has also indicated they could provide other funds for additional improvements to Highway 282 adjacent to the roundabout. Remaining funds to complete the project would be come from the city’s Municipal State Aid Construction fund, which are sourced from the state’s gas tax and not local property tax levies. Contrary to the tone and rhetoric of the JI article, the influx of these competitive external funding sources to Jordan are clearly a success story for our community and something I am proud of.

The article also suggests that other options exist for the intersection. While other options are available for consideration, the article fails to mention all other options are unsafe, would result in the worse congestion, and therefore would not be permitted by MnDOT. MnDOT was not subjectively eliminating these options, but instead was doing so based on real data and documented safety statistics which have been shared with the City Council.

Finally, the article suggests the community is not in support of a roundabout by citing a poll from the JI regarding installation of a roundabout. Per the article, the poll said 63 percent of respondents do not favor a roundabout at Creek Lane. Unfortunately, the writer failed to notice or deliberately misrepresented that the poll collected input at the incorrect intersection. The poll asked about the intersection of Highway 169 and 282, not the intersection of Creek Lane and Hwy 282! Clearly, the intersection of Highway 169 and 282 would not be appropriate for a roundabout. When the city correctly polled Jordan residents on this subject as part of its comprehensive planning process the results were as follows:

  • 58 percent of the 350+ respondents felt the Creek Lane and Highway 282 intersection was a top transportation priority for the community.
  • 68 percent of respondents felt a roundabout was the preferred solution.

With the LRIP and Scott County CDA grants for the roundabout coupled with the interchange design consensus that was recently reached with Scott County and MnDOT, the city of Jordan has made great strides in 2018 towards the two most significant transportation concerns of the community. The city is also in discussions with other agencies regarding improvements to the intersection of Highway 21 and Old Highway 169. While I was disappointed to see misinformation used to spread a negative message in the community, I certainly welcome the Jordan Independent and its guest columnists to join in on this community success and help in building Jordan’s future together.

 

Tanya Velishek is mayor of Jordan.

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