Riverfront Drive in Mankato, Minnesota is home to retail and freight businesses, schools, and residential neighborhoods. The corridor serves nearly 18,000 vehicles each day and connects the community to US Highways 14 and 169. Bolton & Menk worked with the Mankato/North Mankato Area Planning Organization (MAPO), City of Mankato, MnDOT, and Blue Earth County to complete a publicly accepted corridor study. The study serves as a powerful project implementation guide to address safety issues and meet community expansion goals.
The community had many concerns about the corridor, including safety, speeds, traffic back-ups, pedestrian space along the corridor, and pedestrian and bicyclist crossing. The corridor was divided into five segments to properly consider the varying contextual differences and length. Bolton & Menk worked through each segment to define issues and opportunities, and develop and evaluate multimodal alternatives aligned with the following study goals:
- Provide efficient vehicle and freight mobility and access
- Safely accommodate all users
- Support an inviting and safe pedestrian environment along and across the corridor
- Support bicycle connections across the corridor to parallel bike routes and regional trails
- Support future land use and redevelopment plans
- Provide infrastructure improvement compatible with the historic and natural environment
- Enhance community identity
Bolton & Menk, along with project partners, set out to gather public input on which improvement alternatives best fit the community. Meetings were held with property owners, business owners, freight users, and the public to collect insight on major concerns for each segment. Feedback was used to inform the corridor vision, specific improvement recommendations, and implementation timing.
Segments of the implementation plan are being further developed through funded design and construction projects. One priority project included constructing roundabouts at the Highway 14 and Riverfront Drive interchange ramps. The study identified traffic back-ups that were causing delays, which led to driver frustration and unsafe U-turns on County Road 57 to avoid the back-ups during peak hours. The recommended solution is a roundabout at the north and south ramps; however, the study considered an all-way stop and traffic signals. Blue Earth County, in cooperation with the City of Mankato and MnDOT, was able to secure funding for the roundabout improvements due to the readily available solutions from the corridor study.
The progression of the Old Town area improvements is an additional priority project of the study. Efforts continue to illustrate the potential improvements through corridor visualizations to gather input and support from retail and freight stakeholders. Potential improvements include adding traffic signals, pedestrian flashers, and a 3- or 4-lane improvement between Plum Street and Rock Street. These improvements will be coordinated with upcoming pavement repair needs.
The Riverfront Drive corridor study revealed the future of traffic, development opportunities, recommendations, and a roadway implementation plan. Proper preparation leads to thoughtful goals, allowing the community and its partners to leverage funding and address needs beyond pavement repairs. After a coordinated effort, MAPO, the City of Mankato, MnDOT, and Blue Earth County now have a powerful, publicly acceptable project implementation guide for Riverfront Drive.
Angie Bersaw co-leads the firm’s planning and urban design work group. She facilitates projects involving transportation, community and environmental planning, landscape architecture, project communication services, and natural/cultural resources. Angie also oversees transportation corridor studies, preliminary design projects, and transportation system plans. Her collaborative leadership style expedites commonly accepted solutions for her clients and key agencies, affected business owners, and community members. After hours, Angie leads a household of five through a busy schedule of school activities and sports. On the weekends, they make time for the outdoors and hit the ski slopes, weather permitting.
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