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In Martin County: Highway work delayed

FAIRMONT — Martin County commissioners on Tuesday heard a presentation from the Minnesota Department of Transportation, outlining the Capital High Investment Plan.

Transportation planning director Ronda Allis and district engineer Greg Ous reviewed planned road construction projects for Martin County, some of which have been delayed from what was presented to the board last year.

Highway 263 from Welcome to Ceylon was slated for work in 2021 and is now scheduled for 2022. Highway 4 from near Sherburn to Ormsby was originally slated for 2022, and is now delayed until 2024. Work on eastbound I-90 from Highway 4 to Highway 15 is still on track for work in 2022.

Board member Richard Koons asked why the Highway 263 and Highway 4 projects are being delayed.

“When you talk about going around and looking at the pavement conditions around the state, I travel quite a bit and I can’t see that there’s too many in a lot worse shape than 263 and Highway 4,” he said. “So how is it we keep falling through the cracks? The 263 project has been pushed back about seven years.”

“I do know our maintenance staff has said that their primary focus is in Martin County; they are looking at a lot of patching and maintenance work on I-90 west of Fairmont,” Allis said. “But Highway 263 and Highway 4 are definitely on their radar for maintenance work this summer, so we’re going to continue to do what we can to make them as passable as possible.

“We know that we have more needs across the state than we have funds for. So until we have funding infused into our program that allows us to get out there and take care of more of these pavements, we have to prioritize which ones are going to be done sooner. Often times, we’re held to our performance measures, which puts a lot of emphasis on the interstate system and on our national highway system because a lot of our funds do come from our federal program, and that’s where they want to see those dollars used. So highways 263 and 4 are not on either one of those systems, so they immediately become a little bit lower priority from a funding standpoint.”

Allis said traffic volume is also a factor, noting lower volume on the two roadways.

County Engineer Kevin Peyman also weighed in on the issue.

“I know it’s very frustrating when projects get pushed back,” he said. “Sometimes [the county has] had to do that too, which is frustrating. But once it gets done it will last longer and be a higher quality.”

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