BEMIDJI -- Local Minnesota Department of Transportation officials layed out its plans for intersection improvements along U.S. Highway 71 on Wednesday.
The intersections begin in northern Bemidji at Anne Street and extend to Glidden Road. MnDOT communicated its plans Wednesday during a virtual meeting with other local officials from city and county governments, as well as business owners.
Some of the most changes will take place at Anne Street, where a roundabout has been proposed. Last year, when MnDOT first announced it was exploring the intersections project, the roundabout at Anne Street was one of a few options.
Other potential options MnDOT considered were to update the traffic signals, create a reduced conflict intersection where left turn options are reduced or build overpasses for either Highway 71 or Anne Street. The selected option, though, is the roundabout.
Along with installing the roundabout, the project would update pedestrian walkways, and also move Hannah Avenue more to the east.
Other changes described Wednesday were:
- Removing the left turn option to Fern Street for northbound Highway 71 drivers.
- Removal of the left turn onto Blueberry Lane for northbound Highway 71 drivers. Farther north on the highway, a U-turn section will be added so northbound drivers can turn around and then turn right onto Blueberry Lane. Access to businesses like Northwood Lumber will remain open.
- Removal of the left turn onto Balsam Road for southbound Highway 71 drivers with a U-turn section added farther down the road.
- Removal of the left turn onto Lakewood Drive for southbound Highway 71 drivers.
- For Glidden Road, the proposal is for a reduced conflict intersection.
- For Winter Sumac Road, the plan is to add turn lanes for drivers on Highway 71.
- At Movil Lake Road, the proposal is to add a left turn lane for northbound Highway 71 drivers.
- No changes are planned for the Highway 71 intersection at Net Way Northwest.
Preliminary engineering will continue this fall, with final design work set for this winter. Letting and construction is expected in 2022.