Cypress Drive Connection Project Officially Completed In Baxter
Those who live or travel in the Brainerd Lakes Area know far too well how busy Highway 371 can get, especially during the summer tourist season. A newly completed construction project in Baxter is aiming to help alleviate the high volume of traffic.
“It’s very exciting. I’m already hearing comments from people about how they finally have their shortcut. They don’t have to deal with the congestion and the traffic,” said Baxter mayor Darrel Olson. “Which is all it was all about.”
The $17 million Cypress Drive connection project has been over 20 years in the making, and on August 2nd city officials and stakeholders gathered to celebrate its official opening to the public.
“It’s been discussed for as much as the early ’90s. There’s some evidence of some conversation back into the ’80s. It took the city of Baxter up until 2016/17 to be able to identify the funds to get the project off the ground,” said Baxter City Administrator Bradley Chapulis.
The Cypress Drive connection starts at Hinckley Road, runs parallel to Highway 371 and ends just past Clearwater Road. The hope is that the new corridor provides a parallel route to Highway 371, particularly for local traffic, improving traffic flow on the busy highway through the Baxter strip.
“The idea is that we worked on a parallel corridor to get our people off the highway, make it safer for them, more convenient, and let the tourists have at it basically on the highway,” explained Olson.
Officials hope that in addition to easing traffic flow, it also provides an economic boom to the area.
“We’ve improved the logistics for many businesses in the Baxter industrial park. We’ve created another access point for our local residents to go east, west, north, south, to connect those different corridors,” said Chapulis. “And lastly we created an additional economic opportunity along that corridor.”
While Cypress Drive is substantially completed and open to the public, contractors will be finishing up some last minute projects on the roadway during the next several months.