North Mankato is moving forward with recommendations for improving the intersections of Lor Ray Drive at Carlson Drive and Lookout Drive at Howard Drive with roundabouts being a possible option.

A report on both intersections concluded that future control improvements would be warranted for both locations that have operation and safety concerns.

City Engineer Dan Sarff says the current four-way stop at Lookout Drive and Howard Drive is working well, but projections show changes will be warranted. 

“So there were several different alternatives that were considered at that, maintaining the four-way stop, looking at a signal system and also looking at a roundabout. Based on the evaluation, the roundabout alternative was the preferred method.”

Sarff adds that UPS has expressed concerns as the business sits on the corner with multiple access points near the intersection and a roundabout would eliminate one driveway.

“So the recommendation to the planning commission and to the council is to send that one back to the consultant and have them review the roundabout configuration and see if there is a way that that driveway could be accommodated.”

As for the Lor Ray Drive and Carlson Drive intersection, based on traffic volumes and safety the recommendation for the location is a mini-roundabout.

“Reasoning for that would accommodate the traffic operations and also improve the safety. The incidents of crashes at that intersection presently are higher than would be typically expected for that type of intersection.”

With a heavy amount of pedestrian traffic in the area with the Caswell Soccer Complex and Benson Park nearby, Sarff said roundabouts have been found to not be any less safe for pedestrians.

“You can have your own opinions on that. Think the reasoning for that, especially with stop signs. If you’re coming up to a stop sign the expectation is that the driver would stop. If there is a pedestrian coming and the driver does not stop, something really bad is probably going to happen.”

It’s estimated that the roundabout at Lookout Drive and Howard Drive could cost 1.2-million dollars, while the mini roundabout at Lor Ray Drive and Carlson Drive would carry a cost of 620-thousand dollars.

Both recommended improvements still need to go through the planning process.