MnDOT Talks To Public About Future Hwy 71/Anne Street Intersection Project In Bemidji
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is looking at eight different intersections along the Highway 71 corridor of the proposed improvement plan in the Bemidji area.
Tonight, the Minnesota Department of Transportation held an open house to discuss future improvements from Highway 197 to Glidden Road. TJ Melcher, the Public Engagement Coordinator for MnDOT, says the most challenging intersection is Anne Street.
“There’s a lot of things that happen at that intersection, there’s a higher traffic levels on Anne Street. A lot of different types of traffic with younger drivers with older drivers and different types of turning movements that are happening,” Melcher said. “You have businesses that are right up at the intersection, and then you have an elevation change. Really, a lot of different things going on with that intersection that just make it really difficult to figure out what the right answer is going to be.”
There are five different alternatives for the intersection on Anne Street that MnDOT is currently considering. Some of the solutions include a two-lane roundabout, an interchange, adding left and right turn lanes to improve traffic signals, and a reduced conflict intersection.
“So what we kind of focused on is some of the typical engineering solutions and that’s what we’ll be looking at. Getting some feedback on those, ‘do people prefer some, do they see problems, do they have more questions about them,’ and then what we’ll do next is take all of those alternatives and give some engineering some more investigation,” Minnesota Department of Transportation Project Manager Joe McKinnon said.
Other challenging intersections include Lakewood Drive and Glidden Road, and both these intersections have an elevated crash rate. A crash statistic show Anne Street had 37 crashes in a 10-year span, Glidden Road had a total of 20 crashes and Lakewood had 12.
“There’s a lot of things that contribute to an increased crash problem at that intersection as well. And so, that’s another one that’s a challenge to figure out, how can we do this better? How can we remake this intersection and help eliminate these crashes that can be happening?” Melcher said.
During the open house, people talked about their concern for safety at the Anne Street intersection and that the existing traffic signal is confusing.
Along with the public’s feedback, MnDOT will also rely on input from a community review panel. The Highway 71 project is still in the planning phases. The intersection improvements are scheduled to be reconstructed in 2022.