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MnDOT to offer update Oct. 12 on downtown

Mike Christopherson
Crookston Times

    Downtown traffic was the hot topic in several prominent and significant discussions a couple years ago among Crookston City Council members and other decision-makers, with Minnesota Department of Transportation officials involved in some of the talks.

    The talk was spurred by the vision of a “road diet” on Main and Broadway, downtown Crookston’s two primary arteries, that would have reduced the three lanes of one-way traffic on each thoroughfare two two and added a bike lane. Soon, although the definition didn’t change, the phrase “road diet” gave way to “traffic calming,” which the thinking that making such a change in downtown Crookston would force motorists to slow down, and doing so would make downtown a safer place for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists. The thinking also was that if motorists were driving slower, they might be more apt to notice some downtown businesses, amenities and other attractions that they may have missed previously while racing by.

    Multiple design proposals were discussed with MnDOT experts, and then things went quiet, with the thinking that at some point in the future the topic would resurface.

    It’s about to resurface. Interim City Administrator Angel Weasner said this week that MnDOT officials will be at the council’s Oct. 12 Ways & Means Committee to provide an update on what has transpired on MnDOT’s end since the last talks in the council chambers in 2018.

    “It will be a preliminary construction of downtown,” she said at this week’s council meeting, when asked what MnDOT will be presenting, adding that it would involve sidewalks as well as roadways.

    The Times followed up with Weasner later, and she said she’s been told that MnDOT has a 20-year plan for bike lanes to discuss, and also to be talked about are downtown sidewalks and local concerns about accessibility in regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    “The discussion will be aimed at determining if the city council wishes to proceed and the costs associated with moving forward” with any potential downtown traffic initiatives, Weasner tells the Times.

    It’s possible there will be some discussion about the corner of Robert Street and North Broadway, which has been considered unsafe for years and the site of a pedestrian fatality several years ago. Semis have a difficult time navigating the corner’s sharp turn, and MnDOT for years has envisioned a redesigned corner featuring a more gentle curve onto North Broadway. But making that happen would require the removal of the current Tri-Valley Opportunity Council building on the northeast corner of the intersection. Tri-Valley will soon be moving across the street to their new headquarters in the renovated Fournet building, and the Tri-Valley Board of Directors has previously stated they are willing to consider the Crookston community’s “best interests” in determining what becomes of their former home.