Officials get a preview of the planned 2025 Washington St.

Wider sidewalks, median changes and additional turning lanes are included in the project, which aims to increase safety and accessibility, and it will be open for public comment later this month before a plan design is defined. Members of Brainerd City Council and Crow Wing County Council got a first look at the proposed changes during a joint meeting on Monday, August 2 with project development officials Luke Wehseler from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Chris Elliott Hendrickson Shorts Hiniker.

Development of the project began in December 2019, with the first in-person open house scheduled for March 2020 but delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, a virtual open house was held in winter 2020, with over 1,000 community members reviewing project documents online, sharing their concerns about the Highway 210 corridor, and giving insights. comments on what they would like to see improved.

Almost half of the respondents were in the 35-44 and 55-64 age groups, and 58% were women. The top five aspects of roads that respondents said they wanted to see improved were (in order): overall road safety, ability to move around the city, access to businesses, street crossings, and safety / walking comfort.

Most of the people who attended the virtual open house said they drove on the road, while a small percentage said they walked or cycled.

“People are okay with the pavement, but they don’t really feel good about it,” Wehseler said, noting that respondents specifically mentioned the need for improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

Some additional comments focused on intersections, saying there are too many traffic lights, too few turning lanes, and poorly timed traffic lights, and others said they would like to see cycle lanes on the road.

With the open house and a corridor study guiding the proposed solutions and concept designs for the upgrades, MnDOT and SEH are now working to gather more feedback from the community to revise the proposed improvements before presenting a plan to them. city ​​and county officials.

“We want to learn how people use it, how people don’t. What are the problems? What are the problems ? How can we solve this? Wehseler said, noting that the project developers want to hear from all the different people – businesses, truckers, commuters, pedestrians, cyclists and so on.

The proposed designs for the western segment of the road between Baxter Drive and the Mississippi River Bridge include wider sidewalks.  Contributed

The proposed designs for the western segment of the road between Baxter Drive and the Mississippi River Bridge include wider sidewalks. Contributed

Project developers divided the route into five segments when discussing the improvements. The first segment – or western segment – runs from Baxter Drive to the Mississippi River Bridge.

The main goal of this segment is to widen the sidewalks to make the stretch more pedestrian-friendly, which Hiniker says can be done within the existing right-of-way.

With a reconstruction project just completed on Northwest Fourth Street just north of Washington Street, Hiniker said another proposed improvement for that area would be an additional left turn lane from Northwest Fourth Street heading north to Washington looking west.

The second proposition is a median added to Washington Street at Northwest Third and Northwest Fifth Streets, creating right-to-right intersections only.

“This is primarily in response to the frequent occurrence of traffic on hold at the signal backing up more than a block and blocking these intersections or making it difficult for traffic on 210 to turn left into the side street.” , Hiniker said.

Council member Gabe Johnson asked if there were any measures other than wider sidewalks to improve safety in this area, with many vehicles coming from Baxter taking longer than they should to slow down to the 35 mph speed limit. Hiniker said they will continue to discuss the matter, but it’s difficult as the road adapts to so many different uses.

Commissioner Steve Barrows mentioned some businesses in this area – like Walgreens – that have direct access to Washington Street which can sometimes be problematic for traffic. Hiniker said some of the proposed medians could help in these areas, and there will likely be more conversation on this topic.

The proposed designs for the Mississippi River Bridge portion of the highway include wider sidewalks and a smaller median.  Contributed

The proposed designs for the Mississippi River Bridge portion of the highway include wider sidewalks and a smaller median. Contributed

It is also proposed to widen the sidewalks on the Mississippi River Bridge from 6 feet to 11 feet by reducing the size of the median from 14 feet to 4 feet.

Walkers and bikers who gave their feedback at the virtual open house said this area is a particular problem for them.

Council member Tiffany Stenglein asked what effect this change would have on traffic speed, and Hiniker said it shouldn’t have a huge impact but could slow vehicles down slightly, with the east and west lanes being closer. from each other with the smaller median.

While building the bridge, board member Dave Pritschet asked if one lane of traffic could still be allowed in each direction, which the developers say is a definite possibility.

Designs for the central segment of the road between First and Ninth Street include wider sidewalks and the addition of a median.  Contributed

Designs for the central segment of the road between First and Ninth Street include wider sidewalks and the addition of a median. Contributed

The proposed changes to the central segment – between First and Ninth Street – include wider sidewalks, a raised median, and the elimination of on-street parking on the north side of the road.

The raised median is said to be aimed at better handling traffic and limiting vehicles crossing Washington Street or taking left turns from side streets, which Hiniker says can be dangerous.

Hiniker said he knew there could be parking issues for some businesses if on-street parking was removed, so project developers would work with business owners who don’t have off-street parking. street to find a solution.

The proposal also includes the addition of eastbound right turn lanes on East River Road and Fourth and Eighth Streets, as well as the removal of the eastbound left turn lane on Chippewa Street, as would be required with the narrowing of the median on the bridge.

The designs proposed for the northeastern Brainerd portion of the road include wider sidewalks and no on-street parking.  Contributed

The designs proposed for the northeastern Brainerd portion of the road include wider sidewalks and no on-street parking. Contributed

The sidewalk on the next segment between Ninth Street and 10th Avenue Northeast would also be widened as part of the proposal, and on-street parking on the north side of the street would be removed. Without on-street parking there would be room for about 6 feet of green space on the south side of the road.

Hiniker presented three proposals for improvements around the intersection of Washington Street and Eighth Avenue Northeast.

“Because we have such high traffic volumes on these side intersections, where we can, we would like to try and limit the way people turn because of the confluence that this creates,” Hiniker said.

All three proposals include relocating access to Highway 25 and include a median at the intersection with 10th Avenue Northeast to prevent crossing traffic and prevent vehicles from turning left when exiting 10th Avenue. .

The first proposal would move the light from Fourth Avenue to Fifth Avenue, as Hiniker said it is an area of ​​high demand for traffic from the west entering the mall, and it would move access from Highway 25 to the stop light on Eighth Avenue.

The second proposal would replace the traffic light at Eighth Avenue with a roundabout, while the third proposal would include a divided intersection with two roundabouts – one on Highway 25 and one at Eighth Avenue. Hiniker said he believes this third option will be the best to meet future traffic demands. The second option would be the next best choice, and the option without a roundabout would be the third choice, although it would still be better than the current road design.

There are no proposed changes to the east segment – between 10th Avenue Northeast and Pine Shores Road – other than the repaving of Highway 210. Council member Johnson said he would like to see some green space between the road. and the sidewalk to create a better aesthetic welcoming traffic in Brainerd.

Another online public comment period on the current proposals is expected to begin from mid-August to the end of August and last for about three weeks. An interactive map will allow the public to see the plans of the different sections of the road and to give their opinion.

Hard copies of the design proposals will also be available at city hall and county buildings later this month.

A business workshop will likely be held around the end of August to allow the chamber of commerce and businesses along the highway to give their opinion.

THERESA BOURKE can be contacted at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.

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