Downtown Hastings

Hastings residents have expressed a desire for improved traffic flow, safer pedestrian and bike crossings and improved aesthetics on the Highway 61 corridor.

Residents who travel along Hastings’ portion of Highway 61 have been weighing in on its future by participating in the Vermillion Street Corridor Study. The study is being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). 

Back in 2018, the city of Hastings adopted the Vermillion Street Corridor Study as a plan to help redevelop and revitalize Vermillion Street, which is the stretch of Highway 61 that runs from 36th St. to Fourth St. 

MnDOT is aiming to identify what issues or concerns Hastings residents have related to the corridor, and what improvements they would like to see. MnDOT South Area Manager Ryan Wilson presented the ongoing study’s findings and explained what its purpose was at the Hastings City Council meeting on July 5th. 

”It was this comprehensive evaluation of the corridor to look at the issues, to find the vision and examine some alternatives,” Wilson said.

One of the things the study looked at was what travel modes Hastings residents utilized on the Vermillion Street Corridor. The study asked respondents how they typically travel the corridor, and how they would like to travel the corridor. 

Driving a personal vehicle was the most popular answer for both questions. Walking, driving a commercial vehicle, biking, utilizing a carpool, transit, taxi services and driving freight were the other forms of travel residents answered with.

The respective order, in terms of popularity, of the answers to both travel-mode questions were fairly similar. However, there were a few notable differences between the two sets of responses. 

Biking ranked as the fourth-most popular answer for how residents travel the corridor, while, on the other hand, it ranked as the second-most popular choice for how residents would like to travel the corridor. Commercial vehicle use ranked as the third-most popular travel mode, and it ranked tied for second with biking for how residents would like to travel the corridor.

Improved traffic flow was the top priority expressed by residents when asked what they would like to see improved within the Vermillion Street Corridor. According to Wilson, much of the commentary MnDOT has received in their study pertains to concerns about vehicles turning onto or off of the corridor, stops at cross sections and vehicles darting out from businesses. 

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the things that respondents said should be addressed regarding the corridor relate to safety. The study is also showing that Hastings residents would like improvements to be made to the recreational aspects of the corridor, particularly to the sidewalks and the bike options. 

“An emerging theme that we’re seeing in the area is just a better quality experience for non-motorized users along the corridor,” said Wilson.

Other themes MnDOT is finding in this study is that it may be beneficial to reduce access to the highway, reduce the amount of left turns and bolster speed enforcement measures. 

MnDOT is wrapping up the engagement stage of the Vermillion Street Corridor Study and will soon begin to determine what their course of action should be. They already have a pavement preservation project for this section of Highway 61 in the books for the fiscal year 2026, so any improvements decided upon would not be enacted until after that.


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