BAXTER — Another roundabout in Baxter could be in the works for the future depending on the outcome of a traffic engineering study for the planned Isle Drive extension.
The city of Baxter and Crow Wing County agreed to split the traffic study expense, which could cost up to $12,000.
The future Isle Drive extension — from Glory Road to Highland Scenic Drive, also known as Crow Wing County Highway 48, in south Baxter — could involve a traditional four-way intersection or a roundabout. Isle Drive goes past Walmart and Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Baxter Clinic.
The study is expected to look at traffic needs now and 10 years into the future.
The city plans to extend the Isle Drive to the south as it winds across Potlatch land — between Perch Lake and Highway 371 — before connecting to Highland Scenic Drive.
But one of the looming questions is how a new intersection will affect the traffic flow at Highland Scenic Drive’s intersection with Highway 371. One possibility includes building a diamond interchange at Highway 371.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is currently building a divering diamond interchange at Highway 15 and Stearns County Road 120 in St. Cloud. It is slated for completion by the fall of 2013. That new interchange will have traffic crisscrossing at either end of the bridge. Instead of making hard left turns, drivers will veer to the left for access, MnDOT reported.
The Baxter-Crow Wing County traffic study will look at existing traffic volumes, crash history, development in the area and the location of the intersection at Ironwood and Isle drives.
For residents in the area, the proposed new intersection has implications for access to their homes. The study will look at access control within 500 feet in each direction of the intersection.
The study will include cost estimates for the multiple options.