MnDOT Considering Plans to Improve Highway 197 in Bemidji
The Bemidji City Council is continuing to hear about future construction plans on a major highway in the city. The section of State Highway 197 from Gillett Drive to Bemidji Avenue has been up for debate since 2018 in Bemidji. It is a busy road in the city, and not always the safest.
The corridor is also not especially friendly for pedestrians or cyclists, and it’s lined with many different businesses. Since initially presenting a plan for the corridor which included multiple roundabouts, the Minnesota Department of Transportation was asked to work with community members to create a review panel to reflect the needs of the space. The committee includes different demographics with an interest in the corridor.
The planned improvements are expected to span decades. This means MnDOT is being careful about the planning.
MnDOT will be looking for council approval once they have a consensus from their community review panel on what they deem acceptable. They will then need municipal consent and a cooperative agreement before beginning construction. MnDOT does not expect construction to start until 2025 at the earliest and estimates that construction will take up to two years.