TRANSPORTATION PLANNING & SERVICE


The Mid-Minnesota Development Commission (MMDC) provides technical assistance, information and support for transportation issues affecting our region. The MMDC receives a planning assistance contract grant from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), matched with the local tax levy dollars, to provide these transportation planning services within the Region’s four counties. Annually, the MMDC, with input from MnDOT, creates a Transportation Work Program.

Area Transportation Partnership (ATP)

MMDC’s region is served by the Southwest Minnesota ATP. With a boundary that covers the twelve counties within the MnDOT District 8. The Southwest ATP is a committee of elected officials, city and county engineers, a transit provider representative, and MnDOT staff. The ATP has a role to develop policy and program projects utilizing federal transportation funding from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The MMDC appoints the two elected officials from our Commission to represent the Region on the ATP. The Commission also appoints a County engineer to sit on the ATP. MMDC staff serve as technical advisors to the ATP, sub-committee members and ATP alternative members for the elected officials appointed. Current MMDC ATP representatives are:
  • Mike Housman – Meeker County Commissioner 
  • Rollie Nissen – Kandiyohi County Commissioner
  • Jeff Marlowe, P.E. – Renville County Engineer

Minnesota created the Area Transportation Partnership (ATP) process back in 1993 in response to the Federal Transportation act of the time (ISTEA) Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act. That act opened the door to more local input into transportation funding decisions. ATP’s were formed by MnDOT to integrate regional transportation priorities into the State’s Transportation Improvement Program.

In December of 2015 Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or “FAST Act.” The federal government passes transportation acts to guide federal transportation funding. The legislation provides: 
  • Reforms to support more efficient delivery of transportation projects. 
  • Focused resources to invest in highway freight infrastructure, and 
  • Continuation of performance-based program implementation as enacted in Map-21.
The FAST Act, places emphasis on the National Highway System over the Non-NHS. The NHS is basically the state’s principal arterial system. There are some federal minimum performancerequirements that come with fiscal penalties for failure to meet these standards. Thus, decisions on what state road projects will be programed are mainly driven by performance factors. The decision on what NHS projects to fund is mostly controlled by MNDOT’s Central Office. Non-NHS State Highways also need to meet less stringent performance goals, with decisions made by the MnDOT Districts. The ATPs main purpose is to make decisions on local projects, however, MNDOT seeks the input on MNDOT’s investments.
 
Eligible ATP projects include:  roads, bridges, highway safety, transit capital, rail safety projects and projects under the Transportation Alternatives Program. Rail safety projects are currently chosen on a statewide level. A road must be a major collector or an arterial to be eligible for federal funding.

MnDOT District Eight’s ATP webpage:   www.dot.state.mn.us/d8/atp/index.html

Transportation Planning Activities
 
MMDC is involved with transportation planning on a local, regional and state-wide level. MMDC staff, on occasion, are appointed to statewide or district level committees to assist with transportation planning issues. MMDC assists communities with local transportation studies and assistance. The Commission has prepared numerous community comprehensive plans that include transportation as a major component. Staff has been part of many technical advisory committees for community or corridor transportation planning activities. Staff has prepared county trails plans, city trail plans, city active living transportation plans, numerous Safe Routes to School plans and has provided technical assistance for trail development. Staff has also assisted with a variety of other local transportation specialty plans through the years. The Commission also aids local areas that have formed coalitions to support needed transportation projects on a given highway/rail corridor.
 
When the need arises, MMDC prepares transportation studies for the region. Some past examples include:
  • State and Regional Route Study
  • Highway Jurisdictional Study
  • Township Roads Manual
  • The Effects of Highway Upgrading on Economic Activity
  • Road Recording Manual
  • Highway Functional Classification Studies
 Transit Planning and Assistance
 
In 1994, the MMDC published Transit Need Assessment Studies for each of the four counties in Region Six-East. Working with transit committees in each of the counties and the MnDOT Office of Transit the Commission’s studies demonstrated the need for county-wide transit programs in each of the four counties. The results of the studies led the way for MnDOT to authorize funding transit systems in each of the counties.  Staff were members of a couple of the steering committees the Counties formed to guide the Transit Program startups. Consolidation of the county transit operations has taken place. As a result, the Region is now served by two transit providers. Central Community Transit services the Counties of Kandiyohi, Meeker and Renville. Trailblazer Transit serves the Counties of McLeod, Sibley and Wright.
 
As the need arises, the Commission is still active with transit planning activities. Staff is currently engaged in forming a Regional Transportation Coordinating Council (RTCC) to serve our four counties and Sibley County. The RTCC will be responsible for coordinating transportation services through a network of existing public, private, and non-profit transportation providers. RTCC stakeholders will come together to improve mobility of the “transportation disadvantaged” – older adults, individuals with disabilities, individuals with low incomes, and/or military veterans.
 
In 2006, 2011 and 2017 the Commission coordinated and wrote the MnDOT funded Public Transit – Human Services Transportation Plans for Region Six-East. In the past, The Commission has provided MnDOT with assistance in providing annual inspections of the Region’s 5310 Vehicle Program recipients. Staff has also occasionally participated in application review committees for the 5310 Program. Through the years, the Commission’s Aging staff has worked with the county transit programs aiding with obtaining Area Agency on Aging funding for improving transportation services to the elderly. Staff has also sat on a Welfare to Work Transportation Committee in Region Six-East that developed transportation programs to assist with getting people to and from work.
 
The two public transit providers within the Region are:
 
Central Community Transit:   www.cctbus.org
Trailblazer Transit:   www.trailblazertransit.com
 
The MnDOT Transit Office website is: www.dot.state.mn.us/transit/
 
Transportation Advisory Committee
 
The MMDC’s transportation activities are guided by the Commission-appointed Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC provides overall guidance for transportation activities and makes recommendations to the MMDC Board for actions. Current TAC Membership is as follows:
 
Member Representing
 
Robert Anderson – McLeod County Townships, MMDC Commissioner

Jeff Benson – Region 6E School Boards, MMDC Commissioner

Todd Broadwell – MNDOT/ex-officio member

Lindsey Bruer – MNDOT/ex-officio member

John Brunkhorst – McLeod County Engineer

Sean Christensen – Kandiyohi County, City of Willmar Engineer

Dave Cziok – Meeker County, City of Litchfield Administrator

Kent Exner – McLeod County, City of Hutchinson Engineer

Mike Housman – Meeker County Commissioner, MMDC Commissioner

Jeff Marlowe – Renville County Engineer

Robert Moller – Private Sector/Business // Region 6E School Boards, MMDC Commissioner

Rollie Nissen – Kandiyohi County Commissioner, MMDC Commissioner

Mel Odens – Kandiyohi County Engineer

John Rodeberg – McLeod County, City of Glencoe Engineer

Lorallen Schmeling – Meeker County Townships, MMDC Commissioner

Phillip Schmalz – Meeker County Engineer

Francis Schweiss – Private Sector/Business Renville County, MMDC Commissioner

DuWayne Underthun – Kandiyohi County Townships, MMDC Commissioner

Donn Winckler – Executive Director MMDC

Maintenance of the Functional Classification System
 
Functional classification is the process by which streets and highways are grouped into classes, or systems, according to the character of service they are intended to provide. The concept of functional classification defines the role that a roadway segment plays in serving this flow of traffic through the network.
 
As part of the MMDC annual contract with MnDOT, we provide for the maintenance of the Functional Classification System within the Region. Every public road in Minnesota has a functional classification, and it is split between urban (cities over 5,000 population) and rural areas. The System from highest classification to lowest is as follows: principal arterial, minor arterial, major collector, minor collector, and local road. Federal guidance allows only a certain percentage of road miles to be in the higher classifications. To be eligible for federal funds, a road must be designated as a major collector or higher. Most of the roads are classified as local roads.
 
Region Six-East’s Transportation Network
 
Highway and Road Network
 
Region Six East public road network is made up of U.S. Highways, Minnesota State Highways, County State Aid Highways, county highways, township roads and city streets.
 
National Highway System
 
The National Highway System (NHS) consists of roadways important to the nation's economy, defense, and mobility. Within Region Six-East the highways on the NHS are primarily those highways classified as Principal Arterials. Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) has elevated the priority of the NHS system by increasing the share of federal aid dollars targeted to the system and by requiring regular reporting of performance for the condition and the function of this system.
 
Region Six-East NHS Routes & Map-21 NHS Principal Arterials:
 
  • State Highway 7 (Hutchinson east)
  • U.S. Highway 12
  • State Highway 15
  • State Highway 22 (Hutchinson to Jct. U.S. 212)
  • U.S. Highway 71
  • U.S. Highway 212
 Listing of State Trunk Highways in Region Six-East:
 
Highway         Direction
      4                north to south
      7                east to west
      9                east to west
     12               east to west
     15               north to south
     19               east to west
     22               north to south
     23               northeast to southwest
     24               northeast to southwest
     55               east to west
     71               north to south
    212              east to west

Public Airports
 
The Region is served by the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP). Depending on where you live within MMDC’s region, the travel time to the airport is between one and two hours. MSP is the country’s 14th busiest travel hub with over 34 million passengers passing through each year. Compared to other metro areas, only one other U.S. city serves more nonstop markets per capita. MSP is recognized for its high quality of overall operations.
 
The Region utilizes the There are seven public airports located in the four counties of the Mid-Minnesota Development Commission. The airports locations are in the following communities (alphabetically):
 
City of Glencoe – GYL          9902 Dairy Avenue
Runway: paved 3299’ x 75’ – Pilot controlled lighting
Available fuel: 100LL – 24-hour credit card
Unattended arrive – departure building
 
City of Hector – 1D6              78980 State Hwy 4
Runways: paved 2776’ x 50’ lighted dusk to dawn and grass 2599’ x 150’ not plowed in winter
Available fuel: 100LL – 24-hour credit card
Unattended arrive – departure building
 
City of Hutchinson – HCD     1700 Butler Field Drive SW
Runway: paved 4000’ x 75’ – Pilot controlled lighting
Available fuel: 100LL and Jet A, 24-hour credit card
Fixed base operator attended m-f 8:00 to 17:00
 
City of Litchfield – LJF          23978 627th Ave.
Runway: paved 4002’ x 100’ – Pilot controlled lighting
Available fuel: 100LL and Jet A, 24-hour credit card
Unattended arrive-departure building
 
City of Olivia – OVL             2726 W. Lincoln Avenue
Runway: paved 3498’ x 75’ lighted dusk to dawn
Available fuel: 100LL – cash and checks only (after-hour call)
Fixed Base Operator – hours based on time of year
 
City of Willmar – BDH          6600 Hwy 40 West
Runways: paved 5500’ x 100’ Pilot controlled lighting and a grass cross runway 2980’ x 250’ that is closed Nov. – May.
Available fuel: 100LL and Jet A, 24 Hour credit card and arrival/departure building
Fixed based operator Monday - Friday. 8:00 to 17:00
 
City of Winsted – 10D            3234 230th Street
Runway: grass field 3220’ x 200’ lighted dusk to dawn
Available fuel: 100LL, 24-hour building, unattended
Note: Parachute jumping during summer time.
 
MnDOT’s Aeronautics and Aviation website:  www.dot.state.mn.us/aero/planning/sasp.html
 
Freight Railroads
 
Class I Railroads within the Region are:
 
  • Soo-Line Railroad, is the primary United States railroad subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This railroad is in the far northeast corner of Kandiyohi County, and northern Meeker County running through the communities of Eden Valley and Watkins. The rail line goes from the Twin Cities northwest entering Canada at the very northwest corner of the State.
     
  • BNSF Railroad runs through the center of Meeker and Kandiyohi Counties. Willmar is home to a BNSF office and rail yard. The rail line runs through many communities along a similar corridor as U.S. Highway 12. From the Twin Cities to Willmar.  West of Willmar the rail line branches northwest to such destinations as Benson, Morris, Fargo, Aberdeen and Watertown. It branches to the southwest to destinations such as Marshall and Sioux City. From the Twin Cities the route travels to La Crosse and Chicago. 
Class III Railroads within the Region are:
  • Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company (TCWR) runs through the region within and near the Highway 212 Corridor. The headquarters is in the City of Glencoe. The track utilized begins in the Twin Cities and runs 94 miles in Minnesota and 37 mils in South Dakota. It makes Class I rail connections with the Canadian Pacific, Union Pacific, BNSF, and Canadian National.
  • The Minnesota Prairie Line (MPL) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Twin Cities & Western Railroad. MPL is the operator/agent of the railroad, with the 94-mile rail line owned by the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority running between Norwood Young America and Hanley Falls, Minnesota. The railroad runs in the far southern portion of Renville County, through the communities of Morton, Franklin, and Fairfax.
 
To learn more about Minnesota freight railroads use these links:
 
            www.dot.state.us/ofrw/railroad/index.html
            www.dot.state.mn.us/aboutrail/

Trails
 
The Region recreational trails located in each of the four counties. More miles of trail are in the planning and development stage. This trend should continue as there is a growing demand for these amenities. The MMDC has recently assisted McLeod County with a Trails Plan and Kandiyohi County with a Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. Currently the MMDC is assisting Meeker County with updating 2011 Trails Plan. Renville County also has a Trails Plan that they developed several years ago. Several of our cities also have trail plans and have been expanding their infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians. Besides off-road trails, the counties and cities are creating bike routes and bike lanes. Counties are looking at adding wider paved shoulders on county highways where it is demonstrated as a key bicycle route.
 
There are a variety of other trails within the region Many parks have nature trails. Some of the paved trails have parallel grass tracks/shoulders for equestrians. There is also a robust snowmobile trail system throughout the Region.
 
MnDOT Trails and Pedestrian websites:
 
            www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/
            www.dot.state.mn.us/peds/

Trails within the Region
 
State Trails
 
Glacial Lakes State Trail

 
The Glacial Lakes Trail is a 29-mile trail located in Kandiyohi and Stearns Counties. The 22-mile original section of the paved Trail follows the former right-of-way of the Burlington Northern Railroad between Willmar and about one mile west of Paynesville at Roseville Road, at the Kandiyohi-Stearns county line. In between this segment, the trail passes through the Spicer, New London, and the unincorporated community of Hawick. The ten-mile segment between Willmar and Spicer includes a parallel grass track for equestrians, and the rest of the trail includes a grassy shoulder for equestrians.
 
The 2018 State Bonding Bill included funding for a new approximately 5-mile trail Spur of the Glacial Lakes State Trail that will connect the City of New London to Sibley State Park.
 
Luce Line State Trail
 
The Luce Line Trail is approximately 73 miles in length and is in the Counties of Meeker, McLeod, Carver and Hennepin. It is located on an old railroad corridor that ceased operations in 1970. Along the trail corridor there are sections of asphalt, crushed stone and grass. Between the Cities of Plymouth and Winsted the trail has a limestone surface with a parallel treadway for equestrians. The trail is paved for approximately 19 miles from Winsted through the City of Hutchinson ending slightly west of the City’s western boundary. Between Hutchinson and the City of Cedar Mills the trail surface is crushed limestone. Between Cedar Mills and the City of Cosmos (ending west of the community at Thompson County Park on Lake Thompson in Meeker County) the trails surface is mowed grass.
 
More information on both State Trails and others within the state can be found at:  www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails
 
Other Trails
 
Dakota Rail Regional Trail

 
Located on the former 44-mile Dakota Railroad corridor, the Dakota Trail is completed from the City of Lester Prairie in McLeod County heading east to the lakefront in downtown Wayzata (a Minneapolis suburb community). The trail corridor is in the Counties of McLeod, Carver, and Hennepin. The trail corridor between Winsted and the City of Hutchinson (approximately 16 miles in length) has not been completed but is currently utilized as a snowmobile trail. The completed sections of the trail have both asphalt and gravel surfaces.
 
FairRidge Trail
 
The FairRidge Trail runs from the City of Fairfax in southern Renville County to the Fort Ridgely State Park located in both Renville and Redwood Counties. The 8.1-mile trail begins at the Fairfax Railroad Depot Museum. The trail is paved with facilities for equestrians on a portion of the trail’s length.
 
Lake Koronis Recreational Trail
 
The Lake Koronis Trail is in Meeker and Stearns Counties. The trail travels around the Lake and connects the Trail to the City of Paynesville and the Glacial Ridge State Trail. The paved trail system runs for over twenty miles. A major destination of the Trail on the south side of Lake Koronis is the Lake Koronis Regional Park.
 
Buffalo Highlands Trail
 
The Buffalo Highlands Trail the City of Glencoe’s Oak Leaf Park to the Buffalo Creek McLeod County Park at County State Aid Highway 1. The paved trail is 3.9 miles long. At some point in the future it is hoped that the trail can connect with the City of Plato.
 
Dassel Cokato Trail
 
The Dassel to Cokato Trail is located within the U.S. Highway 12 right-of-way connecting the two cities and the Highschool located that is located mid-way in between both communities. The trail is paved and is approximately 5 miles in length. The City of Dassel is also connected to Spring Lake County Park with a paved trail that has a length of approximately one-mile. The trail runs along County Highway 4.
 
Green Lake Trail
 
The Green Lake Trail in Kandiyohi County is a mixture of off-road paved trail and an on-road signed route that has a total length of over 13 miles. The County owned paved trail is primarily along the north side of the lake and connects the Glacial Ridge State Trail to the Green Lake County Park. Green Lake is the largest lake in Kandiyohi County with a surface area of 5,561 acres.
 
Eagle Lake Trail
 
The Kandiyohi County owned Eagle Lake Trail begins at the Trailhead of the Glacial Ridge State Trail in the northeast city limits of Willmar. The 2.5-mile trail connects to the Glacial Ridge State Trail along Kandiyohi County Road 26, approximately three-fourths a mile east of Eagle Lake. The trail, along with the State Trail creates an enjoyable loop trail connecting with the Willmar City trail system, Willmar High School and the residences at Eagle Lake.
 
City Trail Systems
 
Several of the cities in the Region have city trails. Both the Cities of Hutchinson and Willmar have an extensive trail throughout the communities.
 
Funded Future Trails
 
Kandiyohi County has two future paved trail projects that will soon be constructed. The Norway/Games Lake Trail along Kandiyohi County Road 5 with access to the Games Lake County Park. The Diamond Lake Trail will be located on the Lakes west side and provide access to the Diamond Lake County Park. There are other planned trails within the Region that have not been funded or scheduled.

Toward Zero Deaths (TZD)Initiative
 
The Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) program is the state’s cornerstone traffic safety program headed jointly by the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation. The TZD program, which began in 2003, has a mission to move Minnesota toward zero deaths on our roads, using education, enforcement, engineering and emergency medical and trauma services. The Southwest Minnesota TZD program began in 2007 and serves the same 12 counties as MnDOT District 8. The SW TZD has a Steering Committee, with a MMDC staff person as a member. The Committee co-chairs are MnDOT District 8’s District Engineer and the District Commander of the Minnesota State Patrol District 2300. Both the State TZD assistance, the SW TZD provides technical assistance, materials, and guidance to local groups that have been formed to carry out the work to reduce crashes and the fatalities and severe injuries that result from them. Each year the State TZD holds an annual conference and the SW TZD holds a one-day workshop to educate partners on TZD activities technics and for general promotion of the TZD program.

For more information contact:
 
            www.minnesotatzd.org
            www.minnesotatzd.org/initiatives/regions/southwest
 
Each of MMDC’s four counties have established Safe Communities Coalitions to work on TZD activities. These Coalitions work on programs to lower deaths and injuries by lowering intoxicated and distracted driving through educating the public and school children, buckle-up seat belt campaigns, engineering safety improvements, joyride programs, and a variety of other activities.
 
Statewide Travel and Road Condition Information
 
            www.511mn.org
 
Transportation Maps:
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