MnDOT Proposes New Reconstruction Effort for Highway 197 in Bemidji
Over the past three years, the Minnesota Department of Transportation has been working on a proposal to help make the design of Highway 197 in Bemidji safer and more convenient for motorists and pedestrians alike.
The main feature of these renovations would be three roundabouts, located at key areas which have been deemed critical crash locations. These roundabouts will in front of the entrance to Menard’s, on Middle School Road near Target, and on Hannah Avenue in front of Simonson Market and the Super 8 hotel.
These planned renovations seem perfect for a corridor that sees upwards of 16,000 cars in a day, but it’s not just motorists that will benefit. In addition to these planned roundabouts, 10-foot-wide multi-use paths will be added on both sides of the roadway. These paths are being made to ensure the safety of pedestrians.
MnDOT estimates this project will cost roughly $25 million to come to fruition, a cost that may be lessened thanks to a recent grant.
“The big boost for our community on this project is getting that RAISE grant,” said Matthew Upgren, MnDOT Project Manager. “That’s $18 million coming directly to the city of Bemidji – not the city itself, but to our community in the form of transportation dollars.”
The next steps for this project include getting a consultant on board and meeting with city council to get an overview of where the project is headed. Should everything go according to plan, the construction should begin around the summer of 2026.