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Highway 71 Bemidji construction: Stage 2, Phase 1 to begin June 6

The Minnesota Department of Transportation construction project on U.S. Highway 71 between Highway 197 and Winter Sumac Road in Bemidji will move to Stage 2, Phase 1 of the project on Monday, June 6.

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BEMIDJI — The Minnesota Department of Transportation construction project on U.S. Highway 71 between Highway 197 and Winter Sumac Road in Bemidji will move to Stage 2, Phase 1 of the project on Monday, June 6.

According to a release from MnDOT, crews will begin construction of the roundabout at Anne Street as well as begin paving the southbound lanes between Winter Sumac Road and Highway 197.

Highway 71 will remain open to thru traffic throughout construction. Motorists can expect lane closures, delays and intersection detours along the various construction stages. Patients and visitors to Sanford Health are encouraged to allow extra time to travel for appointments, the release said.

“This project is very complex,” Patrick Hopkins, MnDOT project engineer, said in the release. “We do understand the inconvenience to motorists during construction. However, we are working closely with local businesses and Sanford to be sure folks know where we are working each week and how to navigate safely and efficiently through this construction season.”

Stage 2, Phase 1 traffic impacts:

  • Anne Street:  Closed at Highway 71, detour onto Fern Street.
  • Hwy 71: Southbound lanes will be closed and traffic will be shifted to head traffic on northbound lanes. Southbound traffic will not be able to access the Irvine Avenue off-ramp. Detour routes include Glidden Road and Lakewood Drive, dependent on construction at those intersections. Signs will be posted directing traffic, expect delays.
  • Hwy 197: Temporary lane closures on Hwy 197 westbound lanes at Hwy 71 intersection, expect delays.
  • Winter Sumac Road: Shoulder work at Winter Sumac Road, expect delays.

Motorists are encouraged to find an alternate route when possible during construction and follow reduced speed limits throughout the entire project.

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Project benefits and cost

Benefits of the project include a safer road, smoother and longer-lasting driving surface, as well as intersection and pedestrian improvements to enhance safety for all users.

Studies show an 86% decrease in fatal crashes at roundabouts and a 70% reduction in fatalities where J-turns are used, the release said.

To learn more about roundabouts or how a J-turn works, and review their safety benefits, visit MnDOT’s Roundabout web page or MnDOT’s Reduced Conflict Intersections web page.

Knife River is the contractor for the $16.6 million project. Construction is scheduled to be completed in October. Start and end dates could change due to weather and other unforeseeable circumstances.

Work zone reminders

  • Slow down when approaching every work zone.
  • Never enter a roadway that has been blocked with barriers or cones.
  • Stay alert; watch for workers and slow-moving equipment.
  • Obey posted speed limits; fine for a work zone violation is $300.
  • Minimize distractions behind the wheel.
  • Be patient and expect delays, especially during peak travel times.

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