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Walmart entrance changes proposed

BEMIDJI – Some changes to the driveway entrance to the Bemidji Walmart could be on the way.

Plans to reconstruct the entrance to the superstore’s parking lot off Paul Bunyan Drive will go before the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Commission Thursday evening during a public hearing.

The confusion at that intersection is partly because it was shifted from the original plan to align with Middle School Drive.

“And so they had to more or less bend the driveway entryway into the site,” said Andrew Mack, a senior planner with the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board.

The plans were originally approved in 2000, and Walmart opened a couple of years later.

The proposal included in the commission’s meeting packet says the parking lot, intersection and driveway area may be the most prone to accidents in the city. It says that an average of 38 accidents per year happened in that area from 2006 to 2008.

“Engineering improvements regarding the entrance and parking lot layout could reduce the confusion and number of vehicle crashes,” Bemidji police Chief Mike Mastin wrote in a letter to the Joint Planning Board.

Proposed improvements include more stop signs, arrows on the roadway and reconstruction of the curbs and gutters at the entryway to allow for better traffic flow, Mack said.

Also included would be three new lanes – one left turn, one right turn and one going straight – to enter into the parking lot.

The proposed improvements would be completed by August. Mack said the company is paying for the improvements.

Walmart is also proposing changing its signs on the outside of the building and repainting the building.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at city hall.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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